Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed U.S. support for Afghanistan on his recent visit there.He noted that “instability in South Asia … and the extremism that it cultivates endangers all nations as well as the people of Afghanistan.”
“In recognition of these vital interests,” said Secretary Mattis, “and thanks to the national unity government, I would just say that the support of the international community is now rallied under the NATO flag,” and the new strategy as announced by President Donald Trump.
The U.S. and NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan is not only grounded in shared security concerns,it is also based on confidence in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah’s demonstrated leadership in uniting Afghanistan under a government of national unity.
The goal of the new strategy is to make sure that Afghanistan doesn’t once again become a safe haven for international terrorists. And the best way of doing that is to build up Afghanistan’s security forces.
Under this strategy, said Secretary Mattis, “we are approaching the problem with a more holistic and comprehensive regional framework,providing advisers to accompany Afghan units, to provide NATO support to them,adding more U.S. troops alongside additional allied contributions, and making clear that we are not quitting this fight.In short,” he said, “uncertainty has been replaced by certainty.”
Importantly, “this new strategy is conditions-based, not time-based, because war is principally a matter of will. And we’ve made clear that we have the will to stand together,” said Secretary Mattis.
Through our partnership the Afghan Security Forces, we will suffocate any hope that al-Qaida or ISIS, the Haqqani network, or the Taliban have of winning by killing, said Secretary Mattis.
The only path to peace and political legitimacy for the Taliban is through a negotiated settlement. “The sooner the Taliban recognizes they cannot win with bombs, the sooner the killing will end,” said Secretary Mattis.
The United States remains committed to building the capacity of the Afghan Security Forces to secure Afghanistan and to end this war,reconciling with those who want a better future for the Afghan people, and establishing a world free of terror.