WASHINGTON, June 15, 2017 — Pentagon officials announced that Secretary of Defense James Mattis will send 4,000 American troops to Afghanistan in an attempt regain their footing in the ongoing war, which has been considered a stalemate. President Trump has authorized Mattis to decide how many troops would me necessary.
The Pentagon is determining strategy for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, which is expected to take several weeks to decide. However, this decision has been labeled as urgent, in the hope of stopping the Taliban from gaining ground as another round of fighting begins.
The AP first reported this decision by James Mattis. American General John Nicholson, who is the top commander in Afghanistan has said that more troops would be necessary to fight back the militants. Nearly 8,000 troops are stationed in Afghanistan, along with thousands of troops from other countries.
The additional troops will be responsible for training and advising Afghan forces, while others would be running counter-terror operations against Taliban and ISIS militants across the war-torn country. The authorization that President Trump has given to Gen. Mattis allows the Pentagon to more freely deploy forces and carry out operations. President Trump has already authorized Mattis and the Defense Department to act as necessary in Iraq and Syria. Trump’s actions counter former President Obama’s actions who tightly controlled the military’s actions.
Secretary Mattis appeared before a Senate committee, where he attempted to defend this decision to send more troops to Afghanistan but was criticized by Senator John McCain.
“We’re now six months into this administration,” Mr. McCain said. “We still haven’t got a strategy for Afghanistan. It makes it hard for us to support you when we don’t have a strategy.”
The point of the hearing was to review the $600 billion defense spending request, which is a 3 percent increase over former President Obama’s defense spending plan. The spending plan includes improving the readiness of existing forces, expand the size of the military and to purchase new weapons.