United States President Donald Trump has given the Pentagon the authority to decide troop levels in Afghanistan, Reuters reported quoting an unidentified official. The move, which is expected to be officially announced on Wednesday, will allow Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to send more American forces to the war in Afghanistan. The US currently has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan.
The report came on a day when Mattis, in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the US-backed Afghan forces were not able to defeat the Taliban despite being in war for more than 15 years. “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now,” Mattis said. “And we will correct this as soon as possible.”
Mattis was asked to come up with a strategy by Republican Senator John McCain, Arizona. “We want a strategy. I don’t think that’s a helluva lot to ask,” McCain said, according to AP. Mattis promised to provide details of the new strategy for the war in mid-July. “We recognise the need for urgency and your criticism is fair, sir.”
In April, Trump had allowed Mattis to manage the US troop levels in Iraq and Syria. The US military is believed to have proposed sending 2,000 to 4,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, ABC reported quoting unidentified officials.
More than 15,000 Afghan forces and another 20,000 civilians were killed in the war that began with the US invasion in 2001. About 2,300 Americans died as well, Reuters reported. Last week, three soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan after an Afghan soldier opened fire on them.