Before There's Another Surge in Afghanistan, Mattis and His General Need to Meet

Before There's Another Surge in Afghanistan, Mattis and His General Need to Meet by Andrew deGrandpre, Military Times

Any plans to send additional American and NATO troops to Afghanistan won't take shape before Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with his European counterparts and the war's top commander, the Pentagon said Friday.

Those talks are scheduled to begin on Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels, a week after Army Gen. John Nicholson told Senate lawmakers that the 15-year conflict had reached a "stalemate." Thousands of additional military personnel would be needed, Nicholson said, if the coalition hopes to regain momentum. The general spoke also of plans to establish an "enduring counter-terrorism platform" there.

As yet, the Pentagon has made no recommendation to grow the coalition's military footprint in Afghanistan, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman, said Friday. That's expected to be among the leading topics discussed at next week's NATO ministerial, he added. 

Mattis, who was sworn in as President Trump's defense secretary on Jan. 20, has not yet met face-to-face with Nicholson since taking over at the Pentagon, Davis said. It's noteworthy, as the general traveled from Kabul to Washington to testify before Congress this week.

"I don't know if they've spoken," Davis said. "They did not physically meet, no." That is set to happen soon, officials say, though Nicholson will not be attending the defense ministers' meeting in Brussels.

It's unclear whether the secretary, who is known to dislike surprises, was notified by Nicholson beforehand that the general intended to tell Congress he wants more personnel. Davis declined to answer questions about that…

Read on.

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