North Korea 'most urgent' threat to security: US Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis carries a binder before he testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget for the 2018 budget year on Capitol Hill Monday

North Korea 'most urgent' threat to security: US Defense Secretary

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sets his briefcase down before he testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget for the 2018 budget year, on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 12, 2017, in Washington.

Pentagon chief James Mattis has said he was "shocked" by the poor state of the military's readiness to fight due to years of legal budget caps. Dunford said that the US must support the Afghan forces as they develop the capabilities.

Mattis, in response, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he will provide details on the new strategy for the war in mid-July. "We just lost three courageous Americans, when can we expect the Congress of the United States to get a strategy for Afghanistan that is a departure from the last eight years, which is "don't lose"?" The head of the Pentagon expressed before the Chamber of Representatives Armed Services Committee, that he was amazed, because of the lack of training of the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to fight, after years of military budget cuts. The official also said that the USA estimates there are still several hundred ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan.

"We didn't get into this situation in one year, and we aren't going to get out of it in one year", Mattis said in response to questions about a 355-ship Navy. It makes it hard for us to support you when we don't have a strategy.

"But at this point, he has chosen to be competitive, a strategic competitor with us and we will have to deal with that as we see it", he said. Almost 2,400 USA troops have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan since 2001. "You can't expect a stable budget if you don't give us a strategy", McCain said.

"Let's not ask these families to sacrifice any further without a strategy", McCain said.

There are now over 10,000 United States troops deployed in the country, and the U.S. is spending $3.1 billion per month there.

The defense chief, who was a Marine combat commander in Afghanistan at the start of the war, stressed America must not walk away from the country and suggested a long-term residual U.S. force needs to remain to help the Afghan army maintain a baseline of security.

The Taliban "had a good year last year", Mattis said, referencing gains made by the militant group that has been battling US -led troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

Observing that instability in the Middle East spills over into other regions, Mattis said extremists and extremist ideologies have spread to Europe, Africa and Asia.

Mattis acknowledged the need for urgency.

In some cases, Afghan security forces have been forced to abandon more scattered and rural bases, and the government can claim to control or influence only 57% of the country, according to U.S. military estimates earlier this year.

Mattis said the continuing resolutions and sequestration "blocked new programs, prevented service growth, stalled industry initiative and placed troops at greater risk". The country hosts roughly 10,000 American troops as well as the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command.

There are now about 8,400 United States troops devoted to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, which encompasses both USA counter terrorism forces to fight ISIS and the Taliban as well as the effort to train, advise and assist Afghan forces in a separate effort.

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