Monday, May 15, 2017

US officials studying force size in Afghanistan, Dunford says - belgiumsun

JERUSALEM -- No decisions on whether to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been made yet, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters in Israel Tuesday.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said national security leaders have not gone to President Donald J. Trump yet with Afghanistan troop recommendations for 2017 and beyond.

'One of the key discussions we are going to have is what are the horizons for the mission in Afghanistan and how do we articulate it,' Dunford said in an interview. 'I expect [Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis and I and others will brief the president soon.'

Any increase in the NATO and U.S. mission to Afghanistan must be viewed in context, the general said. In the past year, Afghan forces have taken a lot of casualties in battling the Taliban and other groups. Army Gen. John M. Nicholson, the commander of Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, described the situation in Afghanistan as a 'stalemate' during testimony before Congress last month.

Dunford said the situation is clearly not moving in the direction Afghan President Ashraf Ghani wants it to. Last year, Ghani announced a four-year plan, which looked at what was possible for the future of his country. It included a listing of the goals for a secure and stable Afghanistan.

The president has spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and the organization has begun conversations with troops contributing nations. The chairman will be in Brussels next week to speak with fellow NATO chiefs of defense. And on his three-day trip, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been meeting with the ministers of defense for the counter-ISIS coalition.

Besides force levels, new authorities, new capabilities, economic reforms and political aspects must also be addressed, Dunford said. - Read More

Belgium Sun - US officials studying force size in Afghanistan Dunford ...


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