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Chairman of Joint Chiefs: No Decision Yet on Force Size in Aghanistan

The decision on whether to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan has not yet been made, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday. DOD News reported that Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said national security leaders have not presented President Donald J. Trump with Afghanistan troop recommendations for the years 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.” He added that any troop increase should be viewed in context, as the Afghan forces have taken a lot of casualties fighting the Taliban and other groups, and that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is clearly unhappy with the direction things have gone.

Testifying before Congress last month, Army Gen. John M. Nicholson, described the situation on the ground in Afghanistan as a “stalemate.”

Afghan President Ghani had presented a 4 year plan toward peace and stability in Afghanistan. Gen. Nicholson is reviewing Ghani’s recommendations with high-level officials in the Pentagon and U.S. government. In addition to a review of “force levels, new authorities, new capabilities, economic reforms and political aspects must also be addressed,” DOD News reported Dunford said. He refused to put a timeline on American troops in the region, arguing that an American presence is necessary to “stop Afghanistan from becoming an ungoverned space again.” He also warned of proxy actors and wars in the region and that over 20 terrorist groups currently operate there.

The chairman will be speaking with NATO chiefs of defense in Brussels next week. They will also be discussing the counter-ISIS coalition. ISIS-Khorasan is active in Afghanistan.

“We can be tired, but war is a clash of wills,” the chairman said, DOD News reported. “Who wins and who loses? Who loses is [he] whose will is lost first. What we need to be mindful of is not low long we’ve been there, but what is the remaining threat to the United States and coalition partners.”

 

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