Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, and he shocked those in attendance with bold comments concerning the nearly 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.
“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” Mattis told lawmakers. “We will correct that.”
Mattis promised to deliver a new military strategy for the continued war against the Taliban in Afghanistan to lawmakers by mid-July, a timeline that is already months behind what Congress had expected.
Sen. John McCain, who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, expressed frustration with the Pentagon’s lack of strategy, especially since President Donald Trump made campaign promises to end the war during the first few months of his new administration.
“We can’t keep going like this,” McCain said during the hearing. “You can’t expect a stable budget if you don’t give us a strategy.”
Mattis promised the committee that a new plan was currently being briefed to President Trump, but hastening such a process could easily end in disaster and risk the lives of troops on the ground.
Shortly following his testimony, it was reported that President Trump gave Mattis full authorization to set new troop levels in Afghanistan.
There are currently 8,500 U.S. troops and nearly 5,000 foreign allies still on the ground in Afghanistan, despite official combat operations having been ceased in 2014.
More than 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed while fighting in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.