mcloudy.png
Thursday May 23rd, 2019 8:59AM

APNewsBreak: About 4,000 more US troops to go to Afghanistan

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump's young presidency.

The decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week, the official said. It follows Trump's move to give Mattis the authority to set troop levels and seeks to address assertions by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan that he doesn't have enough forces to help Afghanistan's army against a resurgent Taliban insurgency. The rising threat posed by Islamic State extremists, evidenced in a rash of deadly attacks in the capital city of Kabul, has only fueled calls for a stronger U.S. presence, as have several recent American combat deaths.

The bulk of the additional troops will train and advise Afghan forces, according to the administration official, who wasn't authorized to discuss details of the decision publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A smaller number would be assigned to counterterror operations against the Taliban and IS, the official said.

Asked for comment, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said, "No decisions have been made."

Daulat Waziri, spokesman for Afghanistan's defense ministry was reluctant to comment on specifics Friday but said the Afghan government supports the U.S. decision to send more troops. "The United States knows we are in the fight against terrorism, " he said. "We want to finish this war in Afghanistan with the help of the NATO alliance."

An Afghan lawmaker, Nasrullah Sadeqizada, however, was skeptical about additional troops and cautioned that the troop surge should be coordinated with the Afghan government and should not be done unilaterally by the United States. "The security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan and the foreign troops who are here are not making it better," he said.

Although Trump has delegated authority for U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, the responsibility for America's wars and the men and women who fight in them rests on his shoulders. Trump has inherited America's longest conflict with no clear endpoint or a defined strategy for American success, though U.S. troop levels are far lower than they were under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. In 2009, Obama authorized a surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, bringing the total there to more than 100,000, before drawing down over the rest of his presidency.

Trump has barely spoken about Afghanistan as a candidate or president, concentrating instead on crushing the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. His predecessors both had hoped to win the war. Bush scored a quick success, helping allied militant groups oust the Taliban shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, before seeing the gains slip away as America's focus shifted to the Iraq war. In refocusing attention on Afghanistan, Obama eliminated much of the country's al-Qaida network and authorized the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, but failed to snuff out the Taliban's rebellion.

Mattis' deployment of more troops will be far smaller than Obama's.

While military leaders have consistently said more forces are needed, a decision had been tied up in a lengthy, wider debate about America's long-term military, diplomatic and economic strategy for ending the war. Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander there, has said the troops are necessary to properly train and advise the Afghan military and perform work handled at greater cost by contractors. Afghan leaders endorse the idea of more U.S. troops, having lost significant ground to the Taliban in recent months.

But despite repeated questions from Congress this week, Mattis wouldn't reveal his thinking on a troop increase. He said that while counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan are making progress in weakening al-Qaida and IS, "their defeat will come about only by giving our men and women on the ground the support and the authorities they need to win."

Obama set a cap a year ago of 8,400 troops in Afghanistan after slowing the pace of what he hoped would be a U.S. withdrawal.

Nevertheless, there are at least another 2,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan not included in the official count. These include forces that are technically considered temporary even if they've been in the war zone for months.

Trump's decision Tuesday to give Mattis authority to set force levels in Afghanistan mirrored similar powers he handed over earlier this year for U.S. fights in Iraq and Syria. The change was made public hours after Sen. John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee's Republican chairman, blasted Mattis for the administration's failure to present an overarching strategy for Afghanistan. McCain said the U.S. is "not winning" in Afghanistan, and Mattis agreed.

The finality of the decision isn't entirely clear. While Trump has handed over the troop level decision-making, there is nothing preventing him from taking it back.

Mattis has repeatedly stressed that increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would take place within a broader, long-term strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. In congressional testimony this week, he said the strategy will take into account regional influences, such as Pakistan's role as a Taliban sanctuary. Regional powers Iran, India and China, which all have political stakes in the fate of Afghanistan, also must be considered.

While the new troops could raise fears of mission creep, Mattis told lawmakers this week he didn't envision returning to the force levels of 2010-11, when Obama thought he could pressure the Taliban into peace talks. Despite heavy losses, the Taliban fought on.

"Reconciliation" remains the goal, Mattis told a House Appropriations panel Thursday, along with reducing Afghan government corruption.

"We're not looking at a purely military strategy," he said. "All wars come to an end. Our job is to end it as quickly as possible without losing the very mission that we've recognized, through several administrations, that was worth putting those young Americans on the line for."

There have been almost 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001. Three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded in eastern Afghanistan this weekend in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Australian prime minister says he 'channels' Trump in speech
Australia's prime minister denied he was impersonating President Donald Trump during a recent speech, instead describing his performance as "lighthearted and affectionate channeling."
9:24PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Rickie Fowler leads US Open on day of highs and lows
Erin Hills made its debut as a U.S. Open course with a most gracious welcome for Rickie Fowler, who matched the record to par in the opening round with a 7-under 65 on the longest course in major championship history
9:16PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Pitino outraged at NCAA penalties, Louisville will appeal
Rick Pitino was outraged at the NCAA's penalties levied against him and the University of Louisville after the governing body completed its investigation of an escort's allegations
9:16PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Doctors say US student freed by North Korea has brain damage
An American college student who emerged from prison in North Korea in a coma has severe brain damage, but doctors say they do not know what caused it
8:52PM ( 35 minutes ago )
New Mexico fire prompts evacuation of as many as 200
A wildfire burning in northern New Mexico has prompted the evacuation of as many as 200 people and Gov. Susana Martinez has activated the state's emergency operations center to help coordinate the response to the fast-moving flames.
8:49PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Pawn shop workers help nab polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs
Polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured in South Dakota after being on the run for nearly a year
8:48PM ( 40 minutes ago )
AP National News
Dems bridle as some in GOP blame shooting on the left
Some Republicans on the far right are suggesting vitriolic rhetoric on the left could be to blame for the attack that put Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana in critical condition at a Washington hospital
7:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
US official's 'quiet diplomacy' led to Warmbier's release
The State Department says the U.S. diplomat who traveled to North Korea to secure American college student Otto Warmbier's (WORM'-birz) release also was able to make contact with three other Americans detained there
6:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump lashes out at 'bad,' 'conflicted' Russia investigators
President Donald Trump is lashing out at the investigators driving the Russia investigation as "very bad and conflicted people," responding angrily to reports that the special counsel is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice
6:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Injured officer throws out 1st pitch
One of the Capitol Police officers injured in Wednesday's shooting has thrown out the first pitch at the congressional baseball game _ to thunderous applause
8:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump salutes Scalise in pregame video
President Donald Trump is calling for unity in a video message to the Congressional Baseball game
8:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: GOP, Democrats playing ball as Team Scalise
Republicans and Democrats are fighting for bragging rights in their annual Congressional Baseball game, and doing so as one unit _ Team Scalise.
7:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
White House without a plan to address debt ceiling
The White House budget director says the administration lacks a unified plan to increase the government's borrowing cap as a September deadline is drawing near.
4:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump's plan to gut EPA gets cool reception on Capitol Hill
Lawmakers concerned about pollution and global warming are giving a cool reception to President Donald Trump's environmental chief as he attempts to defend the administration's budget proposal, which guts his own agency
3:55PM ( 5 hours ago )
Egypt arrests dozens ahead of proposed protests
Egyptian police have stormed the homes of political opponents of a 2016 agreement to transfer control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, arresting dozens in raids in Cairo and at least 10 provinces across the country, according to two rights lawyers
3:44PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Rickie Fowler leads US Open on day of highs and lows
Erin Hills made its debut as a U.S. Open course with a most gracious welcome for Rickie Fowler, who matched the record to par in the opening round with a 7-under 65 on the longest course in major championship history
9:16PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Pitino outraged at NCAA penalties, Louisville will appeal
Rick Pitino was outraged at the NCAA's penalties levied against him and the University of Louisville after the governing body completed its investigation of an escort's allegations
9:16PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: Authorities: Inmates captured after chase, crash
Authorities say the two escaped inmates wanted in the slayings of two Georgia prison guards were captured after a car crash and foot chase in Tennessee
9:15PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Trump to announce plan to stop cash flow to Cuban military
White House says President Donald Trump plans to announce a revised Cuba policy that's aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country's military and security services.
9:14PM ( 14 minutes ago )
The Latest: Family of 4 fans meets Cosby inside courthouse
A spokesman for Bill Cosby has invited a family of four supporters to meet with the comedian as he awaits a jury's verdict at his suburban Philadelphia sexual assault trial
9:06PM ( 22 minutes ago )