Pentagon's top leaders to face Congress on defense spending

Wednesday, 14 Jun, 2017

US Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon's budget priorities on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, June 12, 2017.

"I have reviewed the unfunded requirements, I believe it is $33 billion and I think if we were to receive more money those requests are appropriate", Mattis said appearing before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Mattis said that despite budget limitations this year, "real growth" will come in 2019 and 2023 with a program that OMB has in the works and that President Trump supports.

USA warplanes have launched airstrikes three times against what they have identified as pro-government forces that have come to close to the US base. We still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan.

He made the comments in response to McCain's criticism about lack of an Afghanistan strategy after six months into the administration of US President Donald Trump. We still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan.

'In this moment, we are not winning the conflict in Afghanistan. "And we will correct this as soon as possible", he said, including that the Defense Department will brief Congress by mid-July on the updated strategy in detail. "It's hard when we have no strategy to pursue". Dunford said the USA and its allies would win, but the casualties would be "unlike anything we've seen" in decades. "We recognize the need for urgency, and your criticism is fair".

Despite the uncertainty about USA operations in Afghanistan, though, American troop presence is still an insurance policy against another 9/11, Mattis told Sen.

McCain said he was confident that within the first 30-60 days of the Trump administration, a strategy would be produced. More than 2,200 USA troops have died, and more than 20,000 more have been wounded.

"The troops that are being asked for by Gen. Nicholson ... many of them are going to be what we call train, advise, assist".

The Taliban "had a good year last year", Mattis said, referencing gains made by the militant group that has been battling US -led troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

"It would probably require residual force doing training and maintaining the high-end capability", said Mattis.

Mattis said a request by General John Nicholson, the head of U.S. and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, for additional troops would mostly be made up of troops who would train, advise and assist Afghan forces, potentially putting them with Afghan forces at the brigade level.

The Korean War ended in 1953, three years after fighting began in a conflict that would kill 140,000 South Koreans, 36,000 United States soldiers and 1 million civilians.

"They want to keep us from getting into the area", Dunford told the committee, adding "this is both the case of Russian Federation, with regard to our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliances, and China, with regard to meeting our commitments in the Pacific".

'I got retired from military service three months before these cuts started. The top commander there has told lawmakers he could use several thousand more USA troops to end the stalemate in the country.

The remarks were a blunt reminder of the gloom underscoring U.S. military assessments of the war between the US-backed Afghan government and the militant groups, classified by USA commanders as a "stalemate" despite nearly 16 years of fighting.