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Trump reverses troop reduction in Afghanistan, empowers Pentagon to decide

The US-led coalition ended their combat mission against the Taliban in 2014

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

James N Mattis, Donald Trump, US, Defense Secretary
James N Mattis (Photo:

US President has given Defence Secretary the authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, media reports said on Wednesday, paving the way for sending more American forces to the war-torn country.

Such an authorisation was granted to Mattis by yesterday.

Mattis, according to The New York Times, is believed to favour sending several thousand more troops to but has not taken a final decision in this regard.

Neither the nor the confirmed the news.

"I don't have anything I can comment on that right now. I would refer you to Secretary Mattis at this point," Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.

The US currently has some 8,400 troops in Army General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told that he could use an infusion of US and allied troops to bolster support for the army.

Earlier this year, the was considering a request for roughly 3,000 more troops, mainly for training and advising. That decision, however, has been stalled by the broader administration review of policy and a push for NATO to contribute more troops.

This sets the stage for US commanders to begin sending more forces to Afghanistan, after years of reductions made in the hope that Kabul could handle internal threats on its own.

Mattis, the former commander of all Middle East wars, said yesterday that the US is not winning the war in

"We're not winning in Afghanistan right now," Mattis said, adding: "We'll correct this as soon as possible".

Mattis later described winning in Afghanistan as forming a central government that, with help, "will be able to handle the violence."

The new admission from the retired Marine Corps four-star general comes as grows increasingly impatient for a new strategy from the 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.

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 forces on the battlefield.

First Published: Wed, June 14 2017. 13:46 IST