White House hands control of Afghan surge to Mattis

U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis speaks at a press conference at the Australia United States Ministerial Consultations at Gover

"We're not winning in Afghanistan right now", Mattis said. US and coalition air support for Afghan military operations against the Taliban diminished as the USA drew down its forces and ended combat operations there in late 2014.

The Afghanistan war has been dragging on since October 2001, and the US -led coalition ended their combat mission against the Taliban in 2014 but they are increasingly involved in backing up Afghan forces on the battlefield.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama had planned to reduce the current number of 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to some 5,500 by the end of 2015 and withdraw all troops by the end of 2016 when his presidency came to an end.

"The Taliban had a good year last year, and they're trying to have a good one this year", Mattis said Tuesday of the anti-Afghan government militant group that has been fighting USA -led troops since 2001. Nicholson described the war as a "stalemate".

"It's not as if I've been given some carte blanche to draw up a number that's out of step with the strategy", Mattis said, adding that he is frequent communication with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.




Mattis's confirmation of news broken Tuesday was met in the hearing with a welcome from Sen. That, coupled with increased ISIL activity in the country, is set to be a key factor in the US's future strategy in Afghanistan. That was the same goal of the 2010 troop surge, which resulted in a massive spike in US casualties but no peace deal with the Taliban. Still missing: an overall Trump strategy for America's longest conflict. These forces would help the fledgling Afghan military regain parts of the country that have fallen to the Taleban since U.S. forces ended their combat mission there in 2014. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed as well.

"Peace is the solution for the problem", said Guterres, previously a United Nations' high commissioner for refugees.

Trump appears to be opting for a mostly hands-off approach in his role as commander-in-chief.

He also told lawmakers that the US forces have been training Afghan troops through collaboration with NATO's Resolute Support mission and carried partnered counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, where approximately 13,000 USA and coalition forces are now stationed. "We pulled out our forces, at a time ... when the violence was lower", he said. McCain expressing his frustration that there is no new strategy yet to "win" in Afghanistan. For nearly 16 years now, the U.S. has been heavily involved in counter-insurgency measures and attempts to install a stable Western-backed government.

The "Taliban had a good year last year, they are trying to have a good one this year", Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing about the Pentagon's budget. Mattis acknowledged that he believed the Taliban were "surging" at the moment, something he said he meant to address.

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