Mattis: US faces 'a determined enemy' in Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said May 9 that American forces in Afghanistan face “a determined enemy” but are dealing significant blows to the enemy.

Speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen alongside his Danish counterpart, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, Mattis said both the Islamic State group and al-Qaida are losing ground and power in Afghanistan as the government, under President Ashraf Ghani, “wins the affection, the respect and the support” of the people.

“In Afghanistan, the enemy has lost about two-thirds of its strength and this past weekend, President Ghani announced the death of the emir of IS Khorasan — this is the IS group in Nangarhar…” Mattis said. “In our anti-IS campaign, we’re dealing that group one more significant blow with the loss of their leader.”

U.S. and Afghan officials announced recently that Abdul Hasib, the head of so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan, had been killed in a military raid. He was believed to have been behind an attack that killed 50 people in a Kabul military hospital earlier this year.

Mattis

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Danish Minister of Defense Claus Hjort Frederiksen host a press brief at Eigtveds Pakhus in Copenhagen, Denmark, May 9, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

Mattis said the United States will continue integrating its military and non-military efforts in Afghanistan and do everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.

“We have to remember that the battlefield that we are fighting on is also a humanitarian field where innocent people live right now, sometimes forced to stay on a battlefield by IS,” he said.

The comments from Mattis come as U.S. media report the Trump administration may significantly increase the number of U.S. troops and intensity of the fight in Afghanistan.

According to reports, Trump is weighing whether to send as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. The U.S. currently has about 8,400 troops stationed in the country.

Also read: NATO requests more troops for Afghanistan

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump has asked military advisers “to relook at the entire strategy” in Afghanistan.

News accounts say the prospective plan would give the Pentagon, not the White House, the final say on the number of troops in Afghanistan, while the U.S. military would have greater range in using airstrikes to target Taliban fighters and remove Obama-era policies limiting the movements of military advisers in the country.

Trump will reportedly make a decision on the Afghanistan policy prior to a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels.

TOP ARTICLES
This is the short and tragic history of the flying aircraft carrier

Today the Navy uses seagoing ships to carry its planes to battle and to protect the fleet. Not long ago, those 'carriers' actually flew themselves.

This is the real-life version of Chuck Norris’s dune buggy from 'The Delta Force'

Newer versions allow America’s special operators to slip into a fight and get out fast after taking it to the bad guys.

The US just turned up the heat on Russian warplanes in Syria

The US just threw down the gauntlet on Twitter, declaring their intention to both defend the SDF (recently targeted by Russia), and defeat ISIS.

This is the Air Force secretary's cry for help over a service under strain

The Air Force is struggling under the weight of old technology, not enough airmen, and a lack of funding.

This is how music affected the military careers of these veterans

These vets served in different branches and different conflicts, but one thing unites them — their love of music, and we've got their favorite songs here.

This is why Wil Willis was proud to serve

Army Ranger and Air Force Pararescueman Wil Willis did all sorts of special ops, so it makes sense Kid Rock's epic song would make his epic playlist.

The US Navy's most advanced submarines will soon be using Xbox controllers

The Navy is beginning to use an Xbox 360 controller to operate the periscopes aboard Virginia-class submarines.

This sailor has one of the most impressive resumes you'll ever see — and he's not done yet

Most kids grow up wanting to someday be a Navy SEAL or an astronaut. This sailor may soon fulfill his dream of being both.

US aviator who helped form Israeli Air Force dies at 94

Mitchell Flint was one of the founding members of "Machal," a group of non-Israelis who fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

This is how a Marine amphibious vehicle caught fire during training in CA

The accident and fire injured 14 Marines and a sailor during a training exercise at a California base earlier this week.

THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY

We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles

COMPLETE SURVEY TO WIN