Secretary of Defense James Mattis again delayed the release of the Trump administration’s Afghanistan strategy initially slated for mid-July, in a briefing Monday.
Mattis told reporters that a decision on Afghanistan is “very, very close,” but admitted that all options are sill on the table, although National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster recently maintained that Trump had made some definitive decisions. Those options include withdrawal, the use of private contractors and a troop surge.
“The president’s already made some important decisions on Afghanistan,” McMaster told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in early August.
Mattis also added during the briefing that he has full faith in Army Gen. John Nicholson, who is in command of the Afghanistan operation.
Just over a month has elapsed since the Afghanistan strategy was officially due in mid-July, and since the administration has not issued any formal strategy, GOP Sen. John McCain has forwarded his own amendment to the annual defense bill stipulating a long-term plan for the region, which involves increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the long-term and boosting U.S. air power.
“America is adrift in Afghanistan. President Obama’s ‘don’t lose’ strategy has put us on a path to achieving the opposite result,” McCain said in a statement last Thursday. “Now, nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened. The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander-in-chief.”
The current situation in Afghanistan is at best described as a stalemate. An Afghan official said Sunday that the Taliban had taken over a district headquarters in northern Faryab Province.
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