Trump Grants Mattis Authority to Set Troop Levels in Afghanistan

16 June, 2017, 06:28 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Trump Grants Mattis Authority to Set Troop Levels in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is America's longest war, beginning in 2001. For example, ISIS has established a branch in Khorasan Province, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups remain active inside Afghanistan, and the Taliban continue to pose a challenge to the democratically elected government. Recently Nicholson asked for 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to bolster the current levels - 8,400 Americans and 5,000 soldiers from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Two months earlier, Trump gave Mattis similar authority over USA forces in Iraq and Syria.

But General Raymond Thomas, commander of the US Special Operations Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month that the new Trump administration could permit more direct engagement between US forces and the Taliban.

There are about 8,400 USA troops in Afghanistan now in addition to several thousand troops from allied countries.

While the Trump administration may not be going fast enough in developing a more "winning" strategy in Afghanistan for McCain's liking, it is apparent that the hawkish McCain's disagreement with Mattis and Trump is more over timing than major substantive points, including whether USA troops should be in Afghanistan at all. The change was made public hours after Sen.

"I believe Jim Mattis will make a great decision on Afghanistan", McChrystal said hours before the announcement.


The finality of the decision isn't entirely clear.

"Bringing the authority really back here where it's historically been enables military commanders to be more agile, to more quickly and efficiently support partners, to have more rapid decision-making, and to keep units together", said Davis. In an effort to prevent a full-out combat mission and to stress the advisory role of the US military presence, the Obama administration placed very specific limits on the number of troops sent to Iraq.

He stressed that a new strategy for Afghanistan emphasizing a "regional approach" worked out with Pakistan and India and in concert with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be presented for Trump's approval in mid-July. Despite heavy losses, the Taliban fought on. "Not winning" means we're losing, yet how likely is it that the United States military, effectively under the command of retired General Mattis, is going to shift gears completely and withdraw?

"We're not looking at a purely military strategy", Mattis told a House Appropriations panel Thursday.

An Afterthought: Let's suppose for a moment that Trump actually wanted to end the Afghan war. "And we will correct this as soon as possible". Three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded in eastern Afghanistan this weekend in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

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