Spearheaded by Chairman Sen. John McCain, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee pressed the Pentagon’s top leadership why it had yet to produce a new national security strategy to inform the budget six months into the Trump administration.
In response, Mattis told the panel the complexity of global threats is taking longer to sort though.
“We have entered a strategy free time and we are scrambling to put it together, but anyone who thinks a strategy — an integrated, interagency, whole of government strategy can be done rapidly is probably someone who hasn’t dealt with it,” he said. “It is — according to Dr. [Henry] Kissinger — the most complex series of threats that he has ever seen in his lifetime and he’s a master of dealing with kinds of issues. We’re working it.”
On Afghanistan, Mattis said, “We’re not winning right now” and
promised to brief the committee by mid-July on the details of the
administration’s plans for continued support of the Afghan government. The danger of pulling out of Afghanistan even after 17 years of
fighting there, Mattis said, was “we’ve seen what came out of these
ungoverned space” there following the civil war. The result was a
Taliban triumph and safe havens for al Qaeda to launch the Sept. 11,
2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. He described Afghanistan
then as “a center for international terrorism” and could be again.As to what defines winning in Afghanistan, Mattis defined it as the
Kabul government through its security forces being able to control the
violence. The United States and allies will be helping it train the
forces and provide high-end support, especially aviation, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance.