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Pentagon Says It Will Present A New Afghanistan Strategy Within Weeks


U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during a press briefing in the Pentagon in May.

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.

In testimony before a Senate panel, Mattis said he had received the authority from President Donald Trump to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, which will allow him to more effectively manage the war effort.

"Together in the interagency, we will define the way ahead and I will set a U.S. military commitment consistent with the commander in chief's strategic directions and his foreign policy, as dictated by Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson," Mattis told lawmakers during a hearing at the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"The revised Afghanistan strategy with the new approach will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks."

Mattis said on June 13 that the United States is "not winning" the 16-year war in Afghanistan amid a surge by the Taliban.

The United States has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan and army officials on the ground in the southern Asian country have told Congress that they could use an infusion of forces to bolster support for the Afghan Army.

U.S. media have reported that the Defense Secretary will recommend sending another 3,000-5,000 U.S. troops to break what he has called a "stalemate" between U.S.-backed government forces and the Taliban.

Army General John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has told Congress that he could use an infusion of U.S. and allied troops to bolster support for the Afghan army.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon was considering a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for noncombat duties such as training and advising.

That decision, however, had been stalled by a broader review by the Trump administration of Afghan policy and a push for NATO to contribute more troops.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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