Mattis blames Congress for lack of military readiness

Mattis blames Congress for lack of military readiness

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified before Congress Tuesday, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S.is now "not winning" the struggle to defeat the Taliban, some 15 years after American troops first went into Afghanistan.

The Taliban "had a good year last year", Mattis said, referencing gains made by the militant group that has been battling USA -led troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis told a congressional panel late on Monday that the Trump administration's Afghan policy would also look at impact of the rivalry between Pakistan and India on the situation in Afghanistan.

Joseph Dunford and the Pentagon's new comptroller, David Norquist - appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 defense budget.

There now are 8,500 USA troops in Afghanistan who split between providing support to Afghan troops and hunting various terrorist groups spread throughout the country.

John McCain (Ariz.), said the Pentagon's budget requests can not be fulfilled without a strategy, both in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

Mattis, a Trump appointee, placed the blame on Congress for what he considers to be an unprepared American fighting force, observing that short-term budget measures and a current law that limits military spending are placing USA troops at risk.

According to The New York Times, Mattis is a strong believer of sending several thousands more troops to Afghanistan, but has not taken a final decision in this regard.

The move restores the process that had been in place prior to the Bush and Obama administrations.

UAE: Arab states don't seek 'regime change' in Qatar
The move has left Qatar , whose only land border is shared with Saudi Arabia, under a de facto blockade by its neighbours. The four Arab states that imposed boycotts on Qatar have given Doha 10 days to comply with a list of 13 demands .

"I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect", Mattis said. "Everything that we are doing plans for that contingency.in addition to looking ahead to what might be developed or what is possible over the next five to ten years".

"Moving forward, the [fiscal] 2019 budget, informed by the national defense strategy, will have to make hard choices and reshape the 2019 to 2023 defense program", Mattis said.

Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, over 2,300 American troops have lost their lives, with another 17,000 wounded. "But we all agree that funding of any kind of terrorist group is inimical to all of our interest".

Russian Federation said on Saturday it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria after the USA military carried out air strikes on pro-Syrian government militia.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the US has an "adversarial relationship with Russian Federation".

On Saturday, three United States soldiers were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them in eastern Afghanistan.

The issue of troop levels became especially sensitive in the Obama administration because precise so-called "force management levels" were set for U.S. deployments to Iraq and Syria.

Pointing to Obama-era budget caps known as sequestration, Mr Mattis said limits on military spending have left troops at greater risk and blocked important new programmes - even though the defence budget is already greater than that of the next seven countries combined.

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