Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense James Mattis offered new details on the ongoing USA escalation of the war in Afghanistan, revealing that more than 3,000 troops are being deployed into the country for "combat duty". Several members expressed concern the US was wading more deeply into a conflict at great expense without prospects for long-term success.
As for deploying U.S. advisers among the Afghan units, Mattis said local troops in Afghanistan are typically more successful in batltle when assisted by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or USA advisers.
"Violence and progress in Afghanistan continue to coexist, but the uncertainty in the region and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation campaign has been replaced by certainty due to the implementation of President Trump's new South Asia strategy", the secretary said.
"After 16 years, should the taxpayers of America be satisfied we are in a "stalemate"?"
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Mattis and Dunford said Trump's new strategy represents the best chance for winning the war, but the US isn't there yet.
However, Mattis said that "in any terms of honesty with this committee, in private, at any time, we will get as specific as you wish. This is totally unacceptable", McCain said, adding that it was "bizarre that for a hearing of such importance our witnesses failed to submit written testimony to this committee". John McCain, the committee chairman, told Mattis.
Already, Washington appears to have put the financial squeeze on Pakistan, shutting down the operations in the USA of Habib Bank, one of Pakistan's biggest.
In a related development, a top USA military this week backed a long-standing Indian accusation that the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's premier spy agency, backs militant groups. There's a collaboration there, based on a very generous and enduring Indian government support for development of the Afghan society since the Soviet invasion, he said.
The new strategy includes sending about another 3,000 US troops to Afghanistan. "If not, I'll go back in" to ask Trump for additional troops.
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However, Pakistan denied all the allegations raised by the US.
The US-Pakistan relationship has soured rapidly after Trump came to power.
Other senators raised a concern that the new Afghanistan strategy won't lead to success.
Still, both Dunford and Mattis said they're willing to work with Pakistan "one more time" before taking punitive measures against the country.
At the same time, Mattis maintained there's "disarray among various enemy groups in Afghanistan" that has led to a situation where it's limited the Taliban's resources, movements and its ability to conduct major offenses. In other words, even if Trump decides to officially label Iran as noncompliant, his own party might refuse to take further steps to torpedo the agreement.
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