U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sandra Erwin, RCD: Mattis Under Pressure to Deliver "Winning" War Plan
The clock is ticking as the Pentagon faces a July deadline to deliver President Trump a fresh menu of options to defeat ISIS.
And as if that weren’t enough, lawmakers on Capitol Hill keep pouncing on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to explain how the U.S. military intends to finish the job it started in Afghanistan 16 years ago.
Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are drafting a plan to “combat ISIS and defeat terrorism,” President Trump said Monday during his first Cabinet meeting at the White House. “We're going to be having a news conference in two weeks on that fight, and you'll see numbers that you would not have believed.”
The president is levying huge expectations on Mattis and Tillerson, and analysts warn that it could backfire. But John “JV” Venable, a retired military officer and research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, described both these leaders as smart “long-ball hitters” who still can take the pressure of short deadlines and an impatient commander-in-chief. “The president has been looking for a policy on how to win the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq for a while,” he said. “It’s a very complicated situation.”
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WNU Editor: The war against the Islamic State has made progress since the end of last year. I expect Defense Secretary Mattis will recommend that current U.S. military strategy and deployments be continued. As for his Afghan plan .... I am willing to bet that he is going produce a plan that will have a lot of caveats. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has already mentioned the need to get regional players involved on ending the Afghan war .... specifically (I guess) Pakistan and the need to get rid of the safe sanctuaries that exist for the Taliban on the border. He has also mentioned the problem of Afghan corruption and how the sectarian divisions with the country are not helping the war effort .... problems that only the Afghans can solve. Still .... my prediction is that Defense Secretary Mattis will recommend the deployment of only enough soldiers to stop the expansion of the Taliban, and to then start the slow process of taking back territory. The time-frame for his ISIS plan will probably be only for this year. The time-frame for his Afghan plan will be for the rest of the Trump administration.