WASHINGTON, June 16, 2017 – According to the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense James Mattis will send 4,000 American troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to help that country regain its footing in the ongoing stalemate with the resurgent Taliban.
President Trump authorized Mattis to determine the number of troops necessary to accomplish the mission. This Pentagon’s action is regarded as urgent in countering the Taliban’s recent gains on the ground as seasonal fighting takes hold. Nearly 8,000 troops are already stationed in Afghanistan, along with thousands of troops from other U.S. allies.
The additional troops will be responsible for training and advising Afghan forces, while others will mount 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 than under the Obama administration which tended to constrain and micromanage military engagements in Afghanistan.
Secretary Mattis recently appeared before a U.S. Senate committee, where he defend his decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. However, he was sharply criticized by Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
“We’re now six months into this administration,” said Senator McCain. “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 Senate hearing was to review the Trump Administration’s $600 billion defense spending request, a 3 percent increase over the Obama administration’s sharply reduced defense spending plan. The current spending request includes improving the readiness of existing forces, expanding the size of the military and acquiring new weapons and weapons systems to augment the military’s currently inadequate arms supplies.