US to send almost 4000 more troops to Afghanistan

Otto Warmbier

Bush approved the surge of forces to Iraq as part of a population-centric counterinsurgency war plan.

"We went into Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks and prevent them from ever happening again", Cotton said.

Mattis also noted that the additional troops could meet shortfalls for air power, logistical support and intelligence support for the Afghan military. The secretary will continue to follow the president's guidance on our overall strategy. Initially he had hoped to get the president to agree to the strategy before last months North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit.

Former defense officials say civilian oversight of the military is not just an important check in a healthy democracy, it ensures that larger strategic considerations are considered - while others question whether the Trump administration has a broader strategy at all. It would require considerable political capital to take on the national security state - capital that Trump now doesn't have, embroiled as he is in controversy (lawsuits!) and ongoing investigations.

"Sec. Mattis has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan", Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman said in a statement.

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

On Tuesday Trump relented.

There have been about 2,400 USA military deaths in the war-torn country since congressional authorization for military force in Afghanistan took effect in 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, where 2,996 Americans were killed and more than double that were wounded.

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Still, "With our allies, it would probably require residual force doing training and maintaining the high-end capability" to take out security threats, Mattis said. Reuters has reported that United States deliberations were focused on sending between 3,000 and 5,000 troops to Afghanistan, where American forces have been fighting for almost 16 years.

The Afghan National Security Forces however are beset by corruption and are taking devastating losses, and it is unclear what additional advisors can realistically do to turn the army into an autonomous fighting force. The authorization that President Trump has given to Gen. Mattis allows the Pentagon to more freely deploy forces and carry out operations than under the Obama administration which tended to constrain and micromanage military engagements in Afghanistan. However, he was sharply criticized by Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

Some lawmakers are growing impatient.

The report comes days after Mattis acknowledged during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States is "not winning" the 16-year war in Afghanistan.

Mattis insisted before Congress that any troop increase will be paired with a broader political strategy to force reconciliation with the Taliban movement, saying "we're not looking at a purely military strategy".

For his part, Mattis stressed that the mission in Afghanistan has not changed; it is still one of train, advise and assist.

The Times article referred to the exchange between Mattis and Trump during the committee hearing that day, noting that Mattis sought to ease McCain's concerns "by hinting that some troops might be sent as an interim step before the administration's new strategy is finalized".

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