Republican SeNator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced his “palpable” frustration.
Committee Chairman congressman Mac Thornberry and other Republicans say the increase is insufficient to strengthen the United States military.
With the new authority, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis could authorize deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan, something commanders on the ground there have been requesting for months.
The US focus on North Korea has been sharpened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of a year ago and by Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
“We are not winning in Afghanistan”, Mattis he told lawmakers. “Investment in military compensation, blended retirement, the Military Health System and family programs are essential to fielding the talent we need to sustain our competitive advantage on the battlefield”.
Officials have said the strategy in Afghanistan needs to be flexible enough to provide the tools needed for Afghan forces to put more pressure on the Taliban. “There are problems within this administration”. He added that the Trump administration is working on a comprehensive cyber defense strategy, but in the meantime the USA has enough understanding of Russia’s cyber actions to defend against them. “It’s yours”, he said. The U.S. contingent is now split between conducting counterterror operations alongside Afghan commandos, and providing assistance to the Afghan military.
More than 2,300 Americans have died during the 16-year conflict in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 have been wounded. About 5,000 other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops are participating in the 28-nation NATO-led mission.
The Trump administration already delegated the authority to set those official troop levels in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria to Mattis in April. Critics of the war effort say that the USA has already spent more than $800 billion fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 and that the security situation has continued to worsen.
“I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect”, Mattis said. Their deaths came just days after a U.S. Army special forces soldier was also killed in the region.
Mattis agreed it would be wrong to “walk away” from Afghanistan.
“At this time. I do not see any indication that Mr. Putin would want a positive relationship with us”. “It took us years to get into this situation”.
“It makes it hard for us to support you when we don’t have a strategy”, McCain said.
Lawmakers repeatedly asked Mattis for an update on Afghanistan and sought reassurance that America would be able to effectively help Afghan partners reverse a stalemate against the resurgent Taliban.
Mattis, asked Monday if the threat posed by ballistic missiles is growing, said that the threat is growing, but that existing missile-defense systems stationed at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California pose an adequate amount of protection as the Pentagon examines long-term options.