Mattis Admits US ‘Not Winning in Afghanistan,’ New Strategy Weeks Away

Senators Increasingly Push for Decision on Afghan Troop Levels

Expectations were that President Trump was poised to announce his decision on Afghan troop levels and overall strategy back in mid-May, when he was attending a NATO summit. He did not, and Defense Secretary James Mattis today conceded that the decision is likely still weeks away.

Mattis was also a bit more circumspect about how badly the Afghan War is going, amid talk by other Pentagon officials of the conflict being a “stalemate,” admitting in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “we are not winning in Afghanistan.”

Mattis promised to “correct” the lack of winning with the new strategy, but indications for months have been that the proposals center around slight increases in direct US involvement in fighting, and likely thousands of additional troops being sent to the country.

Senators, however, expressed increasing annoyance at not hearing any sort of coherent strategy from the administration, with Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) warning that if the Pentagon didn’t provide a strategy for the war, the  Senate would end up providing one for them.

The reality is that the Taliban have been seizing territory from the Afghan government for months, and hold more territory now than at any time during the 16-year US occupation. The US has dramatically increased its number of airstrikes in recent months, trying to slow the losses a bit, but so far that appears to be the best they can really do, slow the inevitable defeat in an unwinnable war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of