Washington will try one more time to work with Islamabad: James Mattis

Thursday, 05 Oct, 2017

Islamabad's role in promoting terrorism, its role in Afghanistan and ISI's relationship with terror groups have been discussed by the U.S. officials for long.

"You see some of the results of releasing our military from, for example, a proximity requirement - how close was the enemy to the Afghan or the USA -advised special forces", Mattis said Tuesday morning before the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

"That said, the One Belt One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate", he added, in an apparent reference to India's stand on the issue.

The prospect of Washington reneging on the agreement has anxious some USA partners that helped negotiate it, especially as the world grapples with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development.

"We want to be your partners, but this committee will not be a rubber stamp for any policy or president". "From these numbers, you can see the Afghan forces remain the main effort, and we are supporting them, not supplanting or substituting our troops for theirs", Mattis told the committee. Under the Obama administration, the Taliban needed to be within a certain distance of USA troops before striking.

Mattis, who just returned from a visit to Afghanistan, said the psychological impact of this new strategy already is being felt militarily and politically. The additional 3,000 troops will cost another $1.1 billion, he said.

Last month, the Pentagon, after long insisting that 8,400 troops were deployed in Afghanistan, admitted that it actually has about 11,000 troops there. The combined US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troop contingent now in the country is about 13,500.

"Meantime, Mattis said the US military leadership in Afghanistan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners "are holding the line" in Afghanistan".

When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, asked for a specific number, Mattis replied, "No, ma'am".

Mattis and Dunford said Trump's new strategy represents the best chance for winning the war, but the US isn't there yet.

The strategy is to focus on a larger region that includes India, Pakistan and other surrounding countries, realign with more advisers on training and advisory support and ensure the plans are sustainable, he said.

President Trump announced a new Afghan strategy on 21 August that involves sending more than 3,000 additional United States troops as advisers to the Afghan military, and Sen.

Dunford and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are testifying before congressional committees Tuesday.

Mattis said Tuesday that those additional US troops would be "arriving now and in the coming months".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday the United States should remain in the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration that constrains Iran's ability to build a nuclear arsenal.

The US-Pakistan relationship has soured rapidly after Trump came to power.

Instead, Congress should be informed and consulted, McCain said. "It had decided in the past not to take action- it can decide again". "We're not talking with them, consistent with the president's dismay about not talking with them before the time is right". "That is our separate, co-equal responsibility under the Constitution".

According to Mattis, the new strategy by the administration "has been welcomed nearly uniformly by leaders in the South Asia region, as well as by the 39 countries contributing troops to the NATO-led campaign". Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The new strategy could be "more of the same".

"After 16 years, should the taxpayers of America be satisfied that we are still in a stalemate?"

The conventional forces did their best, but they weren't prepared to succeed in combat against the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Dunford said.

"Violence and progress in Afghanistan continue to coexist, but the uncertainty in the region and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation campaign has been replaced by certainty due to the implementation of President Trump's new South Asia strategy", the secretary said. "This is totally unacceptable", McCain said.