Pentagon regains authority to set combat troop levels

Poll: Will more US troops make Afghanistan secure?

At its peak, American forces in Afghanistan numbered over 100,000. We recalled the reason why our nation sent troops to Afghanistan originally, noting that we invaded the country in October 2001 in response to the Taliban government's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda and supposed mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks. That means there are more than 6,000 American troops in Iraq and more than 900 American troops in Syria.

"I'm a believer in the Afghan people, so I support an increase in forces there", McChrystal said.

For years after the initial US -led invasion, former Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), the leading non-interventionist in Congress, continually noted that no war had been constitutionally authorized within Afghanistan - only the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In testimony Wednesday to the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mattis confirmed published reports that Trump had given him authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan.

The strategy will be "one that takes into account Afghanistan as part of South Asia", Mattis said, adding that "9/11 taught us the cost of not paying attention to this problem".




Obama set a cap a year ago of 8,400 troops in Afghanistan after slowing the pace of what he hoped would be a USA withdrawal. Gen. John Nicholson, the top USA commander there, has said the troops are necessary to properly train and advise the Afghan military and perform work handled at greater cost by contractors. "But I don't think that takes away President Trump's responsibility for that decision".

"We are not winning Afghanistan right now", Mattis said. In an effort to prevent a full-out combat mission and to stress the advisory role of the USA military presence, the Obama administration placed very specific limits on the number of troops sent to Iraq. He said he expects to outline a strategy for Congress within a month. Trump will rubber-stamp Mattis's decision, which gives him the ability to blame his generals if and when the Afghan war takes yet another turn that is contrary to U.S. imperatives.

The Times article referred to the exchange between Mattis and Trump during the committee hearing that day, noting that Mattis sought to ease McCain's concerns "by hinting that some troops might be sent as an interim step before the administration's new strategy is finalized". "All wars come to an end".

Thanks to the vigilance and skill of the US military and our many allies and partners, horrors on the scale of September 11, 2001, have not been repeated on our shores.

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