Some US officials questioned the benefit of sending more troops to Afghanistan because any politically palatable number would not be enough to turn the tide, much less create stability and security. "Do you agree that we are not winning in Afghanistan?"
"Without sustained, sufficient, and predictable funding, I assess that within 5 years we will lose our ability to project power; the basis of how we defend the homeland, advance USA interests, and meet our alliance commitments", Dunford said. "That hasn't worked", he said.
"We recognize the need for urgency, and you're criticism is fair, sir", he said to McCain.
Mattis's latest assessment comes almost 16 years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and amid a war that continues to claim the lives of USA troops each year-and those of thousands of local forces and civilians.
Mattis replied that he plans to brief Congress on the strategy in mid-July. He is telling Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that unless the Pentagon sends Congress a strategy soon, the department will "get a strategy from us". "We will take that forward to the president for a decision very soon".
The US defense chief also said US dominance of the air is challenged by the "proliferation of advanced integrated air defense networks and 5th-generation aircraft".
"...the Afghan government has got a degree of integrity in what it is contributing to its people - the government services".
He went on to add, "We're talking now about putting what we call North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air support, down at the brigade level, so when they are in contact, the high ground is now going to be owned by the Afghans".
"I think one of the ways that we get after that is by more effectively assisting them, both in planning operations and delivering combined arms, most specifically the aviation capabilities".
'Both Russia and China object to key aspects of the worldwide order so painstakingly built since the end of World War II, ' he said.
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.
On Saturday, three U.S. soldiers were killed in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan's restive east where U.S. Special Operations forces are battling the Islamic State's Afghan affiliate.
Current law prohibits even research into closing bases despite Pentagon estimates that the Department of Defense holds about 20 percent more infrastructure than needed to operate efficiently. "The department will work with President Trump, Congress and this committee to ensure future budget requests are both sustainable and provide the commander in chief with viable military options that support America's security". If sent, the forces would help the fledgling Afghan military regain portions of the country that have fallen to the Taliban since USA forces ended their combat mission there in 2014.
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