Taliban 'surging' in Afghanistan, US defense chief warns

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, who testified alongside Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph F. Dunford Jr., added that he expects to brief lawmakers about the new strategy in mid-July. "I don't think that's a helluva lot to ask".

Last week, in a testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Vice Admiral James Syring, the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said that "the advancements in the last six months have caused great concern to me and others, in the advancement of and demonstration of technology of ballistic missiles from North Korea".

Mattis did not say what those steps are.

According to Reuters, Mattis' plan is widely expected to require the introduction of thousands of additional us troops to the Afghan theater.

The US now has 8,500 troops in Afghanistan, who are either providing support to Afghan troops or hunting various terrorist groups throughout the mountainous country. In February, Nicholson requested 3,000-5,000 more US threats to counter the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. That decision, however, has been stalled by the broader administration review of Afghan policy and a push for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to contribute more troops.

"It's going to be an era of frequent skirmishing and it's going to require a change in our approach from the last several years if we're to get it to that position", Mattis said.

"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now".

They said this will be separate from the request to increase the number of advisers for training and assistance and the USA would expect to increase the frequency of airstrikes launched.

The Taliban's resurgence has been coupled with a growing threat from Islamic State militants trying to establish a foothold in the country.

On Saturday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an insider attack in which an Afghan commando turned his weapon on American troops, killing three and wounding another. And two U.S. Army Rangers died in a April 27 raid on an IS compound in eastern Afghanistan. Dillon C. Baldridge, 22, were killed when one of the Afghans who they were advising opened fire on them. The U.S. has about 9,800 troops there conducting counterterrorism operations against insurgents and training the Afghan army.

US-led coalition airplanes have launched airstrikes against Syrian government forces on three occasions over the past month, accusing them of endangering the US-backed rebels based at Al-Tanf.

Asked what he hoped the situation in Afghanistan would look like a year from now, Mattis said violence would be down, government corruption would be reduced and the Taliban would be "rolled back", with less freedom of movement on the battlefield. "It makes it hard for us to support you when we don't have a strategy", continued McCain. "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.

The Trump administration budget requested $639 billion in defense spending for 2018 - that's $90 billion more than is allowed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) when he asked: "Are we better shape now than a year ago?"

On separate issues, Mattis and Dunford were asked about the Mideast diplomatic rift and alleged Russian meddling in last year's USA presidential election.

Russian Federation said on May 10 that it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria. He added that the Trump administration is working on a comprehensive cyber defence strategy, but in the meantime the US has enough understanding of Russia's cyber actions to defend against them.

Dunford's warning was specifically focused on the U.S. military's ability to project its power anywhere in the world, something he said was critical to deterring adversaries and reassuring allies that the USA can meet its alliance commitments.

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