President Trump granted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to increase troop levels in Afghanistan this week, as the administration prepares a new strategy for the conflict there that has embroiled the United States for almost 16 years.
But General Raymond Thomas, commander of the US Special Operations Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month that the new Trump administration could permit more direct engagement between US forces and the Taliban.
As Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, acknowledged to the Senate this week, we "are not winning" in Afghanistan. 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. He said Trump administration's primary national interest and the worldwide interest in Afghanistan is ensuring it does not become an "ungoverned space" from which attacks can again be launched against the USA, other nations or the Afghan people.
The Arizona senator also warned Mattis that senators will "start getting more vocal in our criticism" if a plan isn't delivered soon.
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The Pentagon will send nearly 4,000 additional American.
"We're not looking at a purely military strategy", he said.
Yesterday afternoon, the President directed the Department of Defense to set troop levels in Afghanistan.
A resurgent Taliban coupled with Islamic State militants have challenged US forces in the region and are taking back territory formerly under control of USA and Afghan troops.
Though the invasion wrested control of most of the country from the Taliban, bin Laden fled the country and went into hiding in Pakistan until captured and killed by US special forces in 2011. A United States military presence has persisted in the country ever since.
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Trump, who has spoken against the Afghan war, has dubbed the 2001 invasion and following occupation of Afghanistan as "Obama's war", but now his administration is sending thousands of more troops to the war-torn country, signaling a policy shift.
Paul retired from his House seat in 2013, but has continued to voice his opinions about USA foreign policy on a regular basis. In late April President Trump delegated to Mattis the authority for troop levels in Iraq and Syria.
Nevertheless, there are at least another 2,000 US troops in Afghanistan not included in the official count.
The delegation of this authority does not in itself change the force levels for Afghanistan.
It is now time to ask the same question of President Trump.
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