Congress requests Afghanistan strategy as DoD considers sending more troops

As the Trump Administration considers ramping up the war in Afghanistan by possibly sending 4,000 new troops to the country, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding a strategy on the United States’ future plans in the country.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on President Donald Trump June 19 to deliver a strategy for victory in Afghanistan.

“Defense Secretary [James] Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that we are not winning in Afghanistan. And yet, six months into the new administration, it still has not delivered a strategy. We cannot keep going like this. If the administration fails to develop a strategy for success, Congress will need to play a greater role. We owe it to our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan, their families here at home, and all of the American people,” McCain said in a statement.

The United States has been embroiled in the war for almost 16 years. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said today that the Defense Department is working on a strategic review for the broader South Asia region which is due out in mid-July.

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That review will also dictate how many troops will go into Afghanistan. Last week, President Trump delegated authority to Mattis to decide how many troops should be in Afghanistan.

Dunford said the commanding officer in Afghanistan requested more troops for an advise and assist capacity.

Still, Dunford said the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan is to get the landscape to where the Afghan security forces can manage the situation by themselves.

The United States currently has 8,400 troops in the country. The United States, under the Obama administration, was hoping to drawdown its forces to 5,500 by the end of 2017. Last July, DoD announced it would keep 8,400 in Afghanistan until the end of 2017.

Congress has been disappointed in the Trump administration’s strategic planning for the wars in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State group.

DoD was late in providing a strategy for defeating IS after Trump asked for one in his first couple months in office.

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In May, Mattis said the president gave more authority to aggressively move against IS. There are more than 5,000 American troops in Iraq and hundreds more in Syria.

McCain has been critical of both the Obama and Trump administrations when it comes to planning.

McCain called on the Obama administration numerous times to deliver a cyber war strategy. Despite delivering several planning documents to McCain on cyber war, the chairman still feels the cyber strategy is lacking.