Pentagon Chief Jim Mattis 'shocked' by low level of US military readiness

Amid speculation whether the USA will send more troops to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a testimony Tuesday, militant group Taliban is "surging" in the war-torn country and that the US -backed forces are "not winning in" Afghanistan.

Mattis, the former commander of all Middle East wars, said yesterday that the U.S. is not winning the war in Afghanistan. It has been four months since Army General John Nicholson, who leads US and worldwide forces in Afghanistan, said he needed "a few thousand" additional forces, some potentially drawn from USA allies.

US National Intelligence Director Dan Coats also warned last month that the security situation in Afghanistan would most likely deteriorate in the future even if the United States and its allies offer more military aid.

Current troop levels stood at 8,400.

"It's a fundamental change to how we bring our, what I would call our real superiority, in terms of air support", Mattis said.

The Pentagon and the White House have been reviewing an option to send 3,000 to 5,000 additional USA forces exclusively in that training and advisory role.

The new admission from the retired Marine Corps four-star general comes as Congress grows increasingly impatient for a new strategy from the Trump administration for America's longest war as Taliban insurgents continue to regain ground and increase power, including launching coordinated attacks on American troops and journalists in recent weeks.

"We're now six months into this administration, we still haven't got a strategy for Afghanistan". "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".

The Afghanistan war has been dragging on since October 2001, and the US-led coalition ended their combat mission against the Taliban in 2014 but they are increasingly involved in backing up Afghan forces on the battlefield.

"Both Russia and China object to key aspects of the global order so painstakingly built since the end of the Second World War", he said.

The statement was included in the defense secretary's prepared opening statement, five months after Mattis identified Russian Federation as first among threats facing the United States.

McCain was referencing the three US soldiers who were killed during a joint US-Afghan military operation Saturday in Nangarhar province. Officials were investigating whether they were killed by friendly fire in the opening minutes of the three-hour battle.

In a bid to add more troops, the Defense Department will need more money than the already fixed budget of over $600 billion for next fiscal year, Mattis said during the testimony. It makes it hard for us to support you when we don't have a strategy.

Since the United States struck with its "mother of all bombs" earlier this year, ISIS has largely avoided assembling in large concentrations, so the official said additional targeting is needed.

But Mattis and his top military officer, Gen Joe Dunford, said any military action against North Korea would have disastrous consequences for the peninsula.

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