WASHINGTON – Senators sharply criticized Pentagon leaders Tuesday for not filling out a new strategy for the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, as Defence Minister Jim Mattis acknowledged that “the enemy is rising now.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., he claimed that Mattis wrap-up of the plan, threatening, “unless we have a strategy, you are planning to a strategy of us.” He said that he had expected that the plan in the first 30 to 60 days of the new administration and say, “we want a strategy. I don’t think that’s a damn lot to ask.”
Mattis, in response, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, that he will information about the new strategy for the war in the middle-July.
“We’re putting it together now and there are-there are actions that are taken to ensure that we do not pay a price for the delay,” he said. “But we recognize the need for urgency, and your criticism is fair, sir.”
Mattis did not say what those steps are.
The U.S. has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress that he could make use of a mix of AMERICAN and allied forces to strengthen support for the Afghan army.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon was considering a request for about 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advice. That decision, however, was stopped by the wider administration review of Afghan policy and a push for NATO to contribute more troops.
Mattis, when you press this key again on the plan, said getting a government-wide strategy can not be done quickly, and that there are constant efforts to ensure NATO-participation so that the “not all on the backs of the American taxpayers.”
He added: “We are not winning in Afghanistan now. And we will as soon as possible.”
The Taliban resurgence is in combination with a growing threat of the Islamic State militants trying to take a foothold in the country. The increased conflict has led to a recent string of American deaths.
Three AMERICAN soldiers were killed and another injured on Saturday when they were attacked by Afghan soldiers, who then killed. And two U.S. Army Rangers died in April, a 27-raid on a compound in eastern Afghanistan. Officials were investigating whether they were killed by friendly fire in the opening minutes of the three hour battle. Their death came just days after a U. S. Army special forces soldier was killed in the region.
The war in Afghanistan is dragging on since October 2001, and the U.S.-led coalition to the end of their combat mission against the Taliban in 2014, but they are increasingly involved in a back-up of the Afghan forces on the battlefield.
Asked what he hoped that the situation in Afghanistan would look like a year from now, Mattis said violence would be established, government corruption would be reduced and the Taliban would be “recovered” with less freedom of movement on the battlefield.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that he hoped that Afghan forces casualties would be lower a year from now.
McCain, however, appear the names of the three 101st Airborne Division soldiers were killed Saturday and said: “Let’s not ask these families to sacrifice further without a strategy that we can take and implement and to help. I am fighting as hard as I can to increase defence spending. It is difficult if we do not strategy to pursue.”