Pentagon sees more 'agility' with new power on Afghan troops levels

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The president recently gave Mattis similar authority to determine troop levels in Iraq and Syria, where the USA military and its allies are fighting a protracted war to degrade and destroy ISIS, and has also relaxed constraints on Special Operations forces operating in Somalia and Yemen, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.

"This administration will not repeat the mistakes of the past", Mattis said.

The New York Times first reported the policy decision, and Mattis confirmed this on Wednesday.

"The delegation of this authority does not in itself change the force levels for Afghanistan". In some instances, the military would call in private contractors or temporary forces to avoid exceeding Obama-imposed troop limits. Washington claims that the massive military presence is only aimed at maintaining security across the country and pushing back Taliban and Daesh (ISIL) militants until Afghan military forces are ready to take over the responsibility.

It has been 15 years since US forces were first deployed to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks, making it the nation's longest-running war. "I'm fighting as hard as I can to increase defense spending", McCain.

"The worldwide community is going to have to hold with it, and when we reduce, we reduce based on conditions on the ground, not on an arbitrary timeline", Mattis told lawmakers.

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The move means it will likely be up to Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan as has been recommended by US military commanders.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on June 14 that he will present a new military strategy for Afghanistan, including an adjusted troop number within weeks. Rather, Barno said, it will likely allow him to add a few thousand troops as he sees fit. "I think it's probably something under 5,000 - and maybe quite a bit under". Decrease it? Change strategies? "What's your end game that you're trying to achieve?" Our overall mission Afghanistan remains the same.

The Pentagon had considered a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advising.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now", Mattis said in his congressional testimony Tuesday. "I know the region and the environment and the sanctuaries they have and the amount of resilience they have".

Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and veteran Army infantry officer, voiced similar concerns.

The remarks were a blunt reminder of the gloom underscoring USA military assessments of the war between the US-backed Afghan government and the Islamist militant group, classified by United States commanders as a "stalemate" despite nearly 16 years of fighting. "It will be unveiled over time", Graham said. The Afghan government has been slowly losing the fight with the Taliban since 2015. "We restricted them from using our air support with some idea that we would wean them off the need of it".

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