Defense Sec. Mattis 'Shocked' By US Military's Lack Of Readiness To Fight

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Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate committee, pressed Mr Mattis on the deteriorating situation, saying the United States had an urgent need for "a change in strategy, and an increase in resources if we are to turn the situation around". He also said he will likely brief the committee on a new Afghanistan strategy by mid-July.

While a similar delegation of authority to the Pentagon for Afghanistan troop levels had been expected, it had been anticipated that it would occur after the Trump administration concluded its Afghanistan strategy review.

The White House since March has been weighing the deployment of 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

SASC Chairman John McCain and ranking member Sen. Mattis was addressing lawmakers seeking additional information about President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget. "But we recognize the need for urgency and your criticism is fair, sir".

He added that if the Pentagon doesn't come up with a strategy for Afghanistan soon, "you're going to get a strategy from us". "Congress owes the American people a strategy that will then lead to success in Afghanistan", McCain said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis can now directly adjust troop numbers, though the official would not confirm whether a new "force management level" - currently at around 8,400 - had been finalised.

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He is believed to be mulling sending an additional 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops.

It has been four months since Army General John Nicholson, who leads USA and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, said he needed "a few thousand" additional forces, some potentially drawn from U.S. allies. More than 2,200 USA troops have died, and more than 20,000 more have been wounded. The official also said that the USA estimates there are still several hundred ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan. The White House is expected to announce the decision on Wednesday, a US official tells The Wall Street Journal.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the decision publicly before an official announcement, said the move gives Mattis the ability to adjust troop levels more quickly.

Trump, who has spoken against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as "Obama's war". The number of US troops has slowly been increasing as Kabul tries to reestablish control of large portions of the country.

"I agree with Secretary Mattis that it is important for Congress to provide consistent and timely funding for our military now; however, I do not believe that he will have the support needed to implement a new BRAC".

Rumors of a US military build-up in Afghanistan have circulated around Capitol Hill for months, since the commander of United States Forces Afghanistan in February testified that several thousand more troops will be needed to break the "stalemate" in the fight against terrorist groups there.

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