Fischer queries top military officials about Afghanistan strategy

Trevor Jackson
October 4, 2017

On other issues, Mattis said he is in favor of the USA remaining in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with allies to halt Iran's nuclear programs, despite Trump's criticism of the deal.

"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups", he said.

Mattis said the troop level breakdown demonstrates Afghan forces remain in charge of the fight and that the US military is "supporting them, not supplanting or substituting our troops for theirs".

McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, declared that it was "bizarre" that Mattis and Dunford did not submit written testimony before the hearing started.

The Pentagon's top leaders defended the Trump administration's new strategy for Afghanistan in detail Tuesday, saying that it will last as long as is needed and includes provisions under which US troops will be placed alongside Afghan troops at lower levels of command to provide them with better coalition air support.

"My military assessment is that we drew down our advisory effort and combat support for the Afghan forces too far and too fast", Dunford said. The additional troops will augment the roughly 8,400 Americans now stationed there. We must be well-informed.

He added that the Afghan forces are becoming bolder in combat because they know US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces are using airpower to strike the Taliban and other militants on "the high ground". "And that would be the way, as we take the fight to the enemy, we convince the Taliban, 'You're not going to win this by killing'". The strategy hits upon larger themes of Trump's August 21 address to the American people, when he pledged to adopt a conditions-based approach for withdrawal from Afghanistan that focuses on pressuring Pakistan to crack down on terror safe havens.

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford also voiced support for the accord, which saw Iran significantly curb its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

Trump has repeatedly said that he's inclined not to certify Iranian compliance after having twice found the country compliant at earlier deadlines.

"Our advisers will accompany tactical units to advise and bring North Atlantic Treaty Organisation fire support to bear when needed", Mattis said. Denying certification could lead the U.S.to reintroduce sanctions, which in turn could lead Iran to walk away from the deal or restart previously curtailed nuclear activities.

"In the six weeks since the president made his announcement, this committee and the Congress, more broadly, still does not know numerous crucial details of this strategy", McCain said.

Recently, Mattis visited New Delhi and said India and the United States "resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge" of terrorism.

When asked by a lawmaker whether revoking of Pakistan's major non-NATO ally was amongst the options being considered to deal with Islamabad, Mattis said: "I am sure it will be".

Speaking at the conservative Hudson Institute in September, Hyten said "the facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements that we signed up for under the [Iran nuclear deal]".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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