USA not winning in Afghanistan: Defense Secretary

USA not winning in Afghanistan: Defense Secretary

Mattis, an inductee into Executive Mosaic's Wash100 for 2017, told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Monday that Congress should consider several concurrent external factors that affect budget deliberations.

"We are taking a regional approach to this", Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee.

Secretary Mattis equated "winning" in Afghanistan with the Afghan government's ability to handle the enemy's level of violence, which he said will require a "residual force" of US and allied forces to train Afghan troops and maintain high-end capabilities. They also said the military will ramp up intelligence gathering in Nagarhar province, where most of the ISIS operatives are located.

Trump has called for a significant jump in the Pentagon's vast budget, though it falls short of the historic spending bonanza sought by more hawkish Republicans.

Committee Chairman Congressman Mac Thornberry and other Republicans say the increase is insufficient to strengthen the USA military.

"We have spent six years just getting by, asking more and more of those who serve, and putting off the choices that have to be made. We will correct this as soon as possible", he said.

Many Democrats on the committee agree, but worry about where the money will come from, given the Trump administration's pressure to cut taxes. Congress and the Department (of Defense) could not anticipate the accumulated wear and tear of years of continuous combat use, ' he said.

U.S. military commanders, who saw fragile security gains eroded under Obama-era troop draw-downs, have been pushing for a new strategy that could see thousands of additional soldiers deploy to Afghanistan to help train and advice beleaguered Afghan partners. To date, more than 2,300 Americans have been - the latest only three days ago, when an Afghan soldier opened fire on three USA soldiers ineastern Afghanistan.

Ahead of the four-hour hearing, Mattis also warned that North Korea posed the most urgent threat to worldwide peace and security, calling the regime's weapons programme a "clear and present danger" to all. "The regime's nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime's provocative actions, manifestly illegal under global law, have not abated despite United Nations' censure and sanctions".

The official said the final decision to give Mattis the power to adjust troop levels actually came during his testimony, at which he said America still is "not winning" in Afghanistan.

Dunford, asked about the threat, said that the United States balances its missile-defense systems with other ways to counter North Korea, including cyber warfare, Navy weapons and intelligence collection.

Republican Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced his "palpable" frustration."We're now six months into this administration, we still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan", McCain said, noting it was hard to get behind an Afghanistan budget request without knowing what the plan is.

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