United States in Afghanistan: Mattis confirms Trump administration has decided on new strategy

Saul Bowman
August 21, 2017

"The President is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time", the White House said in a statement.

The US leader will "provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia".

United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has confirmed that a decision has been made on a military strategy in Afghanistan.

"I'm very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a preset condition in terms of what questions could be asked or what decisions would be made", he said.

Trump and his national security team are now meeting in Maryland to discuss the possibility of sending thousands of additional USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops to Afghanistan, the Washington Examiner reported.

"If you [President Trump] failed to win the Afghan war with disciplined USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops, advanced technology, experienced military generals, consecutive strategies and mighty economy, you shall never be able to win it with mercenaries, notorious contractor firms and immoral stooges", said the Taliban letter.

Other top USA officials attending the Camp David meeting included White House National Security Adviser McMaster, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Vice President Mike Pence, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

In a sign of Trump's frustration, the president reportedly told Mattis and General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, they should replace General John Nicholson, who heads up USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan. "Many decisions made, including on Afghanistan".

Afghanistan has been battling insurgency for more than a decade.

An estimated 9,800 American troops are deployed to Afghanistan, majority assigned to an worldwide force of about 13,000 that is training and advising the Afghan military. Mr Trump, like the wider American public, has expressed his fatigue over the longest foreign war in American history and the inability of two presidents before him to achieve a decisive win against the Taliban.

The defence secretary refused to talk about the administration's long-awaited new policy on Afghanistan until it had been disclosed by Mr Trump, however.

The address comes after a lengthy strategy review in which White House and Pentagon officials mulled a more aggressive role for the American military in Afghanistan.

Mattis declined to discuss specifics before Trump's announcement. Six months later, Obama also authorized the targeting of an ISIS affiliate that had grown in eastern Afghanistan.

Trump's advisers offered competing visions for bolstering Afghan forces against a resurgent Taliban.

Proponents argued that option was less costly in lives and money and would add less to the damage already inflicted on U.S. special operations forces by the long-running battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

Earlier this year, Mattis famously told a Senate panel that the United States is "not winning in Afghanistan". "The decision has to be a commitment that you'll have to sustain for up to eight years".

But Mattis has been firm that the debate over an Afghanistan strategy should be more than just a decision about whether or not to send more American troops.

Mattis said Trump had been presented with multiple options.

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