The head of US Central Command believes more troops need to be deployed to Afghanistan to break the stalemate between the government and the Taliban.
Army General Joseph Votel told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday that ‘additional resources’ will be required to carry out a new US strategy.
It comes more than two years after Barack Obama announced the end of combat in the war-torn country.
Although he did not give a figure for the number of troops needed, last month General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said thousands more were required.
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Army General Joseph Votel told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday that ‘additional resources’ will be required to carry out a new US strategy
Votel told the committee: ‘I do believe it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the advise and assist mission more effective’
Votel told the committee: ‘I do believe it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the advise and assist mission more effective.’
He said a strategy was still being developed, and did not reveal when a final decision would be made.
General Nicholson hinted last month that the matter may soon be put before President Donald Trump.
So far, Trump has offered little clarity about whether he might approve more forces for Afghanistan.
There are still 8,400 US troops in the country, more than 15 years after the Taliban government was toppled by US-backed Afghan forces.
The difficult situation in Afghanistan was highlighted on Wednesday when 49 people were killed following an attack on a military hospital in Kabul by gunmen.
In an attack which ISIS claimed responsibility for, the gunmen went through the 400-bed hospital, shooting doctors, patients and visitors and battling security forces for several hours in a sophisticated operation.
The US went to war in Afghanistan in October 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks, because the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden and expel Al Qaeda.
So far, Trump (left) has offered little clarity about whether he might approve more forces for Afghanistan. In December 2014, President Barack Obama (right) declared the war in Afghanistan was over
The US went to war in Afghanistan in October 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. Troops are seen questioning an Afghan man in Paktia province in 2002
In 2009, the newly elected President Obama announced 30,000 troops would be deployed to Afghanistan in a ‘surge’ which would last 18 months.
But in December 2014, he announced the end of US combat, stating that the longest war in US history was now over, having claimed the lives of more than 2,200 American service personnel.
In a written statement he said: ‘Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.’
He said the remaining 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan would still face danger, but the war was over.
But there is increased pressure for a new strategy following an ISIS resurgence, which has seen the group establish itself in Afghanistan under the name Islamic State Khorasan Province.
Gunmen dressed as medics kill 49
The death toll from an attack on a military hospital in Kabul by gunmen dressed as medics has risen to 49 with dozens wounded, a senior health official said yesterday.
Salim Rassouli, director of Kabul hospitals, said 49 people had been killed in the attack on the Sardar Mohammad Khan military hospital on Wednesday, with at least 63 wounded.
Some uncertainty remained over the exact figure and one security official said more than 90 people had been wounded. Earlier estimates had put the number of dead at more than 30 with 50 wounded.
Gunmen went through the 400-bed hospital, shooting doctors, patients and visitors and battling security forces for several hours in a sophisticated operation claimed by Islamic State.
Survivors told of barricading themselves in hospital rooms to escape the gunmen who were armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades and who began their attack after a suicide bomber blew himself up.