Trump authorises US DoD to set troop levels in Afghanistan
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has been authorised by President Donald Trump to set troop levels in Afghanistan, in a bid to enhance US counter-terrorism operations in the country.
The approval will not change the number of troops in Afghanistan, but will ensure that the DoD gives US troops greater latitude to provide air power and other vital support.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said: "The American military effort in Afghanistan must be viewed as part of a larger regional context in South Asia.
"Our primary national interest and the international interest in Afghanistan is ensuring it does not become an ungoverned space from which attacks can be launched against the US, other nations or the Afghan people.”
In addition to counter-terrorism operations, the US military is participating in Nato’s Resolute Support mission to provide training, advice and assistance for the Afghan security forces and institutions.
Mattis added: "I would say that the reason we have not been attacked over many years from where the 9/11 attack originated is heavily due to the sacrifices that we have made over years as we have kept the enemy on the back foot.
"It's hard for them to conduct external operations out of that former stronghold when they are just trying to hang onto their own lives and avoid us."
More than 13,000 US and coalition troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan in support of the mission.
Allies and partner countries are also committed to supporting long-term financial sustainment of the Afghan security forces until the end of 2020, Nato stated.
Image: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo: courtesy of DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.