Vastvam web: Trump gave and authority Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to set troop levels in afghanistan told U.S. official.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no immediate decision had been made about the troop levels, which are now set at about 8,400.The decision is similar to one announced in April that applied to U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria, and came as Mattis warned Congress the U.S.-backed Afghan forces were not beating the Taliban despite more than 15 years of war.
A former U.S. official said such a decision might allow the White House to argue that it was not micromanaging as much as the administration of former President Barack Obama was sometimes accused of doing.Critics say delegating too much authority to the military does not shield Trump from political responsibility during battlefield setbacks and could reduce the chances for diplomats to warn of potential blowback from military decisions.Current and former U.S. officials say discussions revolve around adding 3,000 to 5,000 troops. Those forces are expected to be largely comprised of trainers to support Afghan forces, as well as air crews.
Deliberations include giving more authority to forces on the ground and taking more aggressive action against Taliban fighters.Any increase of several thousand troops would leave American forces in Afghanistan well below their 2011 peak of more than 100,000 troops.The Afghan government was assessed by the U.S. military to control or influence just 59.7 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts as of Feb. 20, a nearly 11 percentage-point decrease from the same time in 2016, according to data released by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.The broader regional U.S. strategy for Afghanistan remains unclear. Mattis promised on Tuesday to brief lawmakers on a new war strategy by mid-July that is widely expected to call for thousands more U.S. troops.