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'We are not winning in Afghanistan': Defense Secretary Mattis

24 Juin 2017

Lawmakers, including the chairman of the committee, Republican Sen. Jack Reed visit with Secretary of Defense James Mattis before a hearing on Capitol Hill June 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.

"I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect", Mr Mattis, a former Marine general, told the House armed services committee.

Trump and his advisers have requested $639 billion to fund ongoing Pentagon operations around the globe, including an extra $65 billion to sustain current armed conflicts. The administration has also requested about $29 billion for Energy Department defense and nuclear programs.

Mattis added that it was important to include the relationships between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in the USA strategy. "It's hard when we have no strategy to pursue, so I hope you understand the dilemma you are presenting to us". "It took us years to get into this situation".

Mattis replied that he plans to brief Congress on the strategy in mid-July. "But we recognize the need for urgency, and your criticism is fair".

It is believed that between 3,000 and 5,000 troops could be added to the existing total.

Mattis has advocated for an increase in American troops-now at some 8,400 soldiers-to counter a recent wave of insurgent attacks and, according to Reuters and NPR, the president has given his defense secretary the authority to set American troop levels in the country. "But the current number of USA forces in Afghanistan are fulfilling their jobs - they're training and equipping Afghan forces".

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And for many Democrats that blame fell on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi . "This is what they do". The Democrats had portrayed each of the races as a referendum on Trump's scandal-plagued presidency.

Mattis was called before the panel of lawmakers to answer questions regarding the 2018 fiscal year US military budget submitted by US President Donald Trump. "You can't expect a stable budget if you don't give us a strategy".

He said such increased spending was "necessary to preserve just the competitive advantage we have today and we can't assume that our adversaries will stand still".

McCain said he was confident that within the first 30-60 days of the Trump administration, a strategy would be produced.

"Congress owes the American people a strategy", McCain added. "It's yours", McCain said. "Do you agree that we are not winning in Afghanistan?".

The statement was included in the defense secretary's prepared opening statement, five months after Mattis identified Russian Federation as first among threats facing the United States. Responding to another question, Mattis hoped that the Afghan government with worldwide help will be able to handle the violence and drive it down to a level that local security forces can handle it. "I don't think that's a helluva lot to ask". But he rejected as "wild fantasy" a media report that the Pentagon might propose sending up to 50,000 additional troops.

The White House budget proposes eliminating the defense spending cap, calling it an "indiscriminate neglect of the last administration".

A second force is the global situation, Mattis told the senators.

'We are not winning in Afghanistan': Defense Secretary Mattis