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Head Of CENTCOM Anticipates 'Additional Forces' In Afghanistan

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Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that additional U.S. troops may be necessary to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, where the Afghan government is losing ground and Islamic terrorists are gaining it. Committee Chair Sen. John McCain asked Votel, “Are we developing a strategy to break the stalemate and is it going to require additional U.S. troops?” Votel responded: “Mr. Chairman, the answer to your question is yes, we are developing a strategy and we are in discussions with the -- with the (defense) secretary and the department right now, both General Nicholson and I are -- are forming our best advice and recommendations to the secretary and we look forward to moving forward with that.”“I do believe it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the advise and assist mission more -- more effective.” -- Last month, Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan, told the Armed Services Committee he had a “shortfall of a few thousand” troops in Afghanistan. On Thursday, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) asked Votel if he would “support a few thousand more American troops to get the job done in this mission.” -- “That’s certainly a discussion we're having with the secretary right now,” Votel responded. He said he would not “pre-stage” the decision of Defense Secretary James Mattis. “But certainly I agree with what -- with what general Nicholson's approach is. And I do agree that, you know, one of our efforts to improve the capabilities and equipment on the Afghan Air Force is a big part of this. As is improving and expanding their special operations capability.”President Obama formally ended U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in December 2014. The U.S. role has shifted to counter-terrorism as well as training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces. Obama intended to reduce the U.S. troop level in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of his term, but last July, noting t hat the security situation remained “precarious,” Obama said the U.S. would keep approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into 2017. In his opening statement on Thursday, Votel noted that there are 20 U.S.-designated terrorist organizations present today in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he said Pakistan’s shared border with Afghanistan remains a safe haven for those terrorists. Votel also told the committee that after ISIS is defeated in Syria, more “conventional forces” may be needed to ensure stability in former ISIS strongholds.CNS News: Head of CENTCOM Anticipates ‘Additional Forces’ in Afghanistanhttp://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/s...

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