Trump Gives Pentagon Unilateral Authority To Set Afghan Troop Levels

Tyler Durden's picture

President Donald Trump has has given the Pentagon unilateral authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, the WSJ and Reuters reported overnight, clearing the way for the military to intensify its fight against the Taliban and opening the door for future troop increases requested by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While no immediate decision had been made about the troop levels, which are now set at about 8,400, the Pentagon is currently weighing plans to send between 3,000 and 5,000 additional troops.

The news comes after Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that "We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. And we will correct this as soon as possible." Mattis said the Taliban were "surging" at the moment, something he said he intended to address.

The decision is similar to one announced in April that applied to U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria, and came as Mattis warned Congress the U.S.-backed Afghan forces were not beating the Taliban despite more than 15 years of war. After the official announcement control over troop decisions to the Pentagon, expected to be announced on Wednesday, sets the stage for U.S. commanders to decide to reverse course in Afghanistan and begin sending more forces to the country after years of reductions in the hope that Kabul could handle internal threats on its own, the WSJ notes.

According to the WSJ, the White House decision to cede authority to Mr. Mattis is another reflection of Mr. Trump’s push to give the military wide latitude around the world. The White House has already given the Pentagon more power to carry out strikes in Yemen and Somalia. Mr. Trump removed a cap on troop levels in Iraq. And he approved Pentagon plans to send more U.S. troops and firepower into Syria to fight Islamic State.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been urging the Trump administration for months to send more troops to Afghanistan. But a decision to do so has met with resistance from some members of the Trump administration, who are wary of being dragged back into a fight that could require more forces, firepower and money.

A former U.S. official told Reuters such a decision might allow the White House to argue that it was not micromanaging as much as the administration of former President Barack Obama was sometimes accused of doing. Critics say delegating too much authority to the military does not shield Trump from political responsibility during battlefield setbacks and could reduce the chances for diplomats to warn of potential blowback from military decisions.

It has been four months since Army General John Nicholson, who leads U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, said he needed "a few thousand" additional forces, some potentially drawn from U.S. allies.

As a reminder, the U.S. once had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, after then-President Barack Obama approved a military surge in 2009 at a time when the war against the Taliban appeared to be in danger of failure. Before leaving office, Mr. Obama declared an end to major military operations and dramatically scaled back the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. There now are fewer than 9,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, primarily to help advise and train Afghan forces, which have struggled to secure their country.

The Pentagon has been weighing plans to send between 3,000 and 5,000 troops to Afghanistan. But that decision could still take weeks, the U.S. official said. Mattis, testifying Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that he expected to complete a military strategy for Afghanistan by next month. That could mean that a decision on troop numbers could occur simultaneously, or sometime afterward.

Still, some officials have questioned the benefit of sending more troops to Afghanistan because any politically palatable number would not be enough to turn the tide, much less create stability and security. To date, more than 2,300 Americans have been killed and more than 17,000 wounded since the war began in 2001.

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Hail Spode's picture

I take it that Trump has not seen "War Machine" with Brad Pitt.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture


The gift that keeps on the MIC.

Looney's picture


Why not give the Pentagon the authority to print its own money and declare wars, too? </Ctrl-Alt-Sarc>   ;-)


FrozenGoodz's picture

Trump gives someone else part of his job

DieselChadron's picture

from what I hear, after Trump pulled his idiotic stunt of launching all those missiles into Syria, people in the pentagon stripped him of his commander in chief duties.  everybody forgets the third "m".. media, money, and military.  lose control of one, lose control of all.

BullyBearish's picture

so...trumpanyahoo has given unilateral authority to:

--the saudis to use u.s. weapsons to slaughter yemenis

--the israelis to steal the most land in 25 years from the palestinians

--to the money printers in every way

--and now, in the open to the mic who would do want they want anyway


how does anyone really believe him when he says he cares about the PEOPLE?

Dr.Vannostrand's picture

Que TMosley "Systems, peanutz, etc" & Froze "I was for Rand before I was for Trump" 25

SofaPapa's picture

Ah, the simpleminded...

I'm an Ahmed Average in Afghanistan.  If I look out and see the fighting around me, which side am I going to choose?  On the one end of the spectrum, I have ISIS and their looney friends who will behead me for saying anything that even remotely resembles an idea of my own rather than whatever propaganda they are running.  On the other end of the spectrum, I have the US and friends defending the poppy fields and the officers of the police who will rape my young son dressed in women's clothes if they can get their hands on him.  Not much of a choice.

Surprising that the Taliban may actually end up being the closest thing to a middle ground there!

No matter what, the US has already lost.  Afghanis no longer have any reason whatsoever to believe the myth propagated by the western MSM about our purpose there.  Once a population sees your forces as a corrupting evil rather than a liberating savior, you are done.  Period.  It doesn't matter how many men are there.  The ideology is false, and that cannot be hidden behind more killing.

Mattis's suggested solution is to prolong and embolden established evil, and Trump is right on board.  The fact that Hillary would be doing the exact same thing doesn't make what's happening any more palatable.  Our government is completely out of the control of any reasonable minds.  Violent profitable psychotic insanity is now official policy.

Meanwhile, the vets come home and many end up on the fentanyl train.  The tragedy here really is too much to bear. :(

swmnguy's picture

EVery Empire in its later stages produces this sort of scenario.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Erick Prince explains why the U.S. military is not good at Afghanistan type situations:

As a military you have two choices:  1) Go in Nazi style, and make concentration camps, then re-educate the people.

2) Go in British style and create a new Raj.  The Raj system would use Afghani labor, and afghani leaders in a Colonial type system. Afghani men get to run sectors, so this gives them an upward mobility path and also status.   At the top of each sector is an American, who they report to.  It is a number of small pyramid management structures, and each Afghani leader is held accountable for what goes on in his sector.  If need be, the sectors can be ring-fenced with checkpoints.



HowdyDoody's picture

Great News from Afghanistan! ISIS have managed to take control of Tora Bora (yes, THAT Tora Bora) from the Taleban. I'm sure this all makes sense to someone.

Zero_Ledge's picture

Trump is a billionaire. Some people have a hard time grasping that simple fact.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

He's gone stupid and it is clear as day his life has been threatened by the MIC.  Hence the arms deals with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the world tour to those same nations, and now this.

Does he not realize the media masters are also the money masters, are also the Military Industrial Complex masters???    This is just Vietnam all over again. 

Its going to take a proper civil war, in America, and in Europe, isn't it?  For people to get their heads on straight?  It just seems to me right now everyone is being threatened and coerced, and they give in to those threats.  Which is understandable enough, but there comes a time when a man has nothing left to lose!  And that time may be approaching more rapidly than we would like to think.

Its an information war, and we are making great progress in that regard, but action is needed as well.   There is no sense in allowing the enemy to retrench and re-arm and prepare for what is coming (The break up of the Wall St banks, the abolition of the Federal Reserve, national debt repudiation, media monopoly break up, and taking apart the MIC, or at the very least, putting a leash back on them).

swmnguy's picture

President Trump never was what a lot of people seem to have convinced themselves he was.  Prior to about 5 years ago, he'd never expressed much in the way of a political opinion; was socially liberal to the extent he cared at all.  I think he and Roger Stone spent too much time talking about a really cool publicity stunt and it went way, way too far.

I don't see a civil war in the future, at least not along tidy partisan ideological lines.  I keep waiting for those mourning LaVoy Finicum to realize they're angry at the same cops, for the same reasons, as Black Lives Matters.  It was making connections to poor whites that got the Black Panthers wiped out.

All Empires fear a peasant revolt more than anything, which is why the Obama White House collaborated so readily with local law enforcement and corporate security to wipe out the Occupy Movement.

I suspect a system collapse will be the main driver of whatever comes next, not an open civil war.  That collapse will lead to all kinds of nastiness but I think the only organized forces will be the Oligarchs consolidating and defending their personal interests more than anything else.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Like when they announce pension cuts, or attempt to inflate the problem away (stealth pension cuts, resulting in reduced standard of living) as usual?  Or internet blackout (vs gradual censorship)?  Market crash?  Shortages?  Power cuts?   I see things being very regionalized.  That would probably resulting in migrations, same as we see in Europe, but this time, migrations within North America. 

Crash Overide's picture

Maybe Jeff Sessions should look into the Afgan poppy trade if he want's the help curb the overdose epidemic in the US... He gave a speech yesterday about this before the congressonal hearing, does he realize his own pals in Washington are the ones causing this with their policies and war?


swmnguy's picture

Yes, he does realize that.  And he is pursuing policies that will be very lucrative for his pals in the private prison industry, whom he keeps touting.

peopledontwanttruth's picture

Just like Pilate washing his hands it still made him responsible even though in his mind and outwardly it appeared he was innocent

PrometeyBezkrilov's picture

In other words make it another East-Indian Company. Their goals and aproach is the same anyways. Ownership as well.

Rainman's picture

yup, Afghanistan .. the Soviet Union's Vietnam War ( circa 1979-1989 )

luckylongshot's picture

The heroin trade must not be stopped. 

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

The poppies are used for 'legal' opiates as well.  Which is where the real epidemic is at the moment.  Because if a drug is PRESCRIBED then its a good drug!  yay!

peopledontwanttruth's picture

Article said
The news comes after Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that "We are not winning in Afghanistan right now.

Not Winning? Only 15 years with the world's largest military of all time?

If you're down by 100 points at the 2:00 warning in the 4th with a professional team against the junior varsity, give it up, hang your head in humiliation or tell the truth that it was planned to lose but we made money off the concession stand and every item we sold?

Youri Carma's picture


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May 10, 2017 Zero Media

"Why are we in this war which can not be won?"

U.S. Defense Sec: 'We are not winning in Afghanistan.'

"We Help The Cultivation Of Opium Poppies"

The Growth of Opium Trade in Afghanistan is a Direct Result of US Invasion

Some people still don't understand that it's not about 'winning a war' but about 'having a war' as long as possible in order to fill the coffers of the Military Industrial Complex and the opium trade is indeed a very profitable business for them. Production seven folded when the Americans came in.

"Is Afghanistan A Lost Cause?" People who even dare to ask this question haven't got any geopolitical or historical insight at all into this matter because nobody EVER has won a war in Afghanistan. Has to do with the landscape you see.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Look at a satellite photograph of Afghanistan.  Even the most untrained of eyes should see, it is extremely hilly and mountainous.  It is just crevasses, peaks and valleys for hundreds of kilometres in every direction.  The epitomy of 'advantage of terrain', esp. for guerilla warfare!

There is an American taxpayer funded GANG protecting Afghanistan's opium, with the profits going both to Big Pharma and assorted 'black budgets'... 

swmnguy's picture

Alexander the Great figured that out without satellites.

HRClinton's picture

No, but what a great opportunity for Pentagon generals to become Opium Barons.

Why would they key the smelly locals have all the action?

(After posting my comment, I saw the Crypto's comment below, with a similar sentiment.)

Crypto-World-Order's picture

Trump gives the MIC total authority to regulate poppy fields. Fixed.

ThirteenthFloor's picture

War ! What is it good for, absolutely nothing ! Say it again !

illuminatus's picture

Ohhh no, it's good for something.... Cui bono.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Come-Under in Cheef!

do MAGAtards think this is a good move? Curious....

Justin Case's picture

Fentanyl is the new cocktail with heroin. What a disaster. Baltimore.

The CIA is pushing cheap heroin into Russia creating issues, while the CIA works with Chinese in Asia pumping it into Philippines.

Wonder how Oliver North is these daze? He was the fall guy for CIA when they were funding the Iran/Iraq woar and Adnan Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian billionaire international businessman, best known for his involvement in arms dealing. He is estimated to have had a peak net worth of around US$4 billion in the early 1980s.

The children!

FoggyWorld's picture

That part is Ivanka's job.  Or maybe she just specializes in Syrian kids.

HRClinton's picture

It's a self-limiting problem. Eventually these death cocktails will run out of trashy or low IQ customers. 

You don't see Asian, Muslim or Jewish kids dropping from these drugs.

The Opioid Wars have come home to roost.

GlassHouse101's picture

The population isn't going to control itself, now will it??

order66's picture

Trump is 100% captured. What a joke.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

His yuuge ego would have it no other way.

In my opinion it was obvious from the start this man was a slave to his ego. Please refer to "The Apprentice" for further research.

peopledontwanttruth's picture

"Leopard can't change its spots"!

You don't get this high in politics and especially in the US if you're not a part of something or bought out.

Just like The Bee Gees said, "words and words are all I have to take your heart away"!

swmnguy's picture

He never was what too many people convinced themselves he was.  The mythmaking machinery went into high gear a little over a year ago.  The Mythical President Trump has no connection with the historical Donald J. Trump of the past 70 years.

TimmyB's picture

A lot like Obama when you think about it. Two bullshit artists who won because the dream they sold was more appealing than the grim reality offered by their better known political opponents.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

The only argument for Trump was that he was not Hillary.  That is still a pretty convincing argument.  A vote for Trump was also a vote AGAINST political correctness.  That still stands, a victory to build upon.  'His' foreign policy?  Laughably and predictably falls well short of what was promised.

venturen's picture

Imagine letting people who studied military tactics their whole lives...set troop levels. As opposed to a community organizer whose primary goal is to steal as much money as possible

Crypto-World-Order's picture

Those troops are going to help harvest and protect the heroin shipments

Justin Case's picture

MIC cost for an antenna on F-18 was $1,500.00. They are stealing by over pricing.

I saw some numbers on spending on military in Russia and what they get for their money. Pundits whine about corruption in Russia? Look in yoar back yard, in particular the MIC. Russian fighter jets are way ahead of merican planes. The F-35 is still grounded, after spending $1 trillion dollars, still can't fly. Well throw some moar money at it? The corporation should be criminally investigated in court.

Lost in translation's picture

Russia offered a sweetheart deal to South Korea for Su-35 and Su-37 to meet F-X requirements, price reduced in exchange for debt forgiveness. Full tech transfer, final assembly to be performed at Sacheon factory, RoK.

It was the least expensive to purchase and maintain of all aircraft competing for the contract (1996), but was rejected in favor of F-15.

Accusations of bribery have since been published.

swmnguy's picture

OK then, what's the objective?  

I don't give a crap how many soldiers we have in Afghanistan.  They all signed up on purpose for money.  The fate of mercenaries is of no interest to me.

However, I believe the correct number of US troops in Afghanistan to promote US geopolitical interests and objectives is 0.  Candidate Trump said so as well, once in a while, depending on what he thought the audience wanted to hear that night.

Now President Trump says he wants to leave war to the generals?

President Trump is indeed tearing down the US Empire, brick by brick.  I was hoping someone would do that, but intentionally, and in ways to make the US safer and more prosperous.  Not by speeding up the usual, unintentional and chaotic process of collapse.  But that's what we're getting, so we'd better make the best of it.

peopledontwanttruth's picture

Well said, and he's not getting paid to be president lol.

Imagine what his bunker looks like for his family when this turns to terminal velocity?