Korea is 'most urgent' threat to peace

The United States is "not winning" the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Tuesday, promising to brief lawmakers on a new war strategy by mid-July that is widely expected to call for thousands more U.S. troops.

The "Taliban had a good year last year, they are trying to have a good one this year", Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing about the Pentagon's budget.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan", he said during an appearance at Capitol Hill to discuss the Pentagon's budget.

Mattis appeared alongside Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Pentagon comptroller David Norquist.

"The competitive advantage the United States has enjoyed is eroding", Dunford told the House committee Monday evening.

Haass, who served as a foreign policy adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump during last year's campaign, said that there are three policy options on the North - acceptance, military intervention and creative diplomacy - but the first two are either flawed or too risky.

"I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect" in 2013, he said of his stepping down as head of U.S. Central Command. "But at this point, he has chosen to be a strategic competitor with us and we'll have to deal with that as we see it", Mattis added. He said he understands the urgency.

The Korean War ended in 1953, three years after fighting began in a conflict that would kill 140,000 South Koreans, 36,000 USA soldiers and 1 million civilians. To date, more than 2,300 Americans have been - the latest only three days ago, when an Afghan soldier opened fire on three USA soldiers ineastern Afghanistan. "For all the heartache caused by the loss of our troops during these wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration".

Despite months of expectation that a new Afghanistan strategy announcement is imminent, Mattis said this would not be ready before mid-July.

"More broadly, this need to preserve our security also requires us to sustain the global presence in Afghanistan to help stabilise the South Asia region and deny terrorists a safe haven", he said.

"We have to use not only our military forces, but we need the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, Commerce, and so on and so forth", he told Senate appropriators at a hearing last week.

The threats were made in the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, suggesting that although North Korea is more than 10,000 kilometers away from NY, "this is just not a long distance for its strike today".

The Defense Department has requested a $639 billion budget for next year.

North Korea's ongoing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is a "clear and present danger to all", U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

There are about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of the US-led counterterrorism mission and a separate, NATO-led effort to train, advise and assist the Afghan army and police force in the fight against the Taliban. He said the troops "deserve the best weapons and equipment we can provide", and "I'm afraid today they're not getting it".

Mattis repeated what other defense officials during President Obama's years have said over and over, the military's combat readiness is eroding, weapon modernization plans are at risk, and still, the inaction continues.

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