As more troops deploy to Afghanistan, Pentagon mum on numbers

Pakistan and US need to work actively for regional peace Asif

However, John Mc Cain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has reportedly said, "But we still do not know what specific steps the United States will take to convince or compel Pakistan to change its behaviour, or what costs we will impose if Pakistan fails to do so".

"In the six weeks since the president made his announcement, this committee and the Congress, more broadly, still does not know numerous crucial details of this strategy", McCain said at the Senate hearing.

A top USA military officer said on Tuesday that he believed that Pakistan's main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had ties to militant groups.

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that the US over the past several years had made a bilateral approach to effect a change in Pakistan's behaviour.

The move is in line with President Donald Trump's August speech on Washington's policy in the Central Asian country.

Mattis said "regionalize" means to take a comprehensive view to resolving the war that includes regional players India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and China.

Frustration has been mounting in the United States with Pakistan's dodgy record on counter-terrorism and its use of groups sheltering on its soil as a tool of its foreign policy. Mattis said a decision is imminent.

"We want to be your partners", McCain said.

"The enemy [Taliban] is under pressure, they have a loss of leadership and have become increasingly fractious", Mr Mattis said.

FM off to US on three-day visit

Mattis and Dunford, who testified for more than two hours before the senators, also testified Tuesday afternoon before the House Armed Services Committee.

"While we continue to make gains against the terrorist enemy in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, in Afghanistan we have faced a hard 16 years", the secretary said, adding that the strategy is aimed at improving conditions on the ground and putting in place Afghan forces that can protect their fellow citizens.

The Trump administration is said to be considered a range of options to bring a country that has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism in all but name to heel, starting with curtailing military and civilian aid, and putting a financial squeeze.

"War is principally a matter of will, and the global community is making clear that it will stand alongside the Afghans committed to this fight", Mattis said.

The commitment of US troops to "combat duty" - calling in airstrikes and providing direct tactical advice on the front lines - marks a major shift from the Obama administration's strategy in ending USA troops' combat role in 2013.

Mattis has said about 3,000 US troops will join 11,000 American forces and 6,800 additional global troops from allied nations.

The decision on whether to strike targets has been delegated to the commander of United States forces in Afghanistan.

Now, Mattis has chose to modify physical proximity rules and also let USA troops advise low-level units of the Afghan military.

He added that the situation in Afghanistan was now a stalemate.



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