Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’

Trump gives U.S. military authority to set Afghan troop levels: U.S. official

June 14, 2017

Reuters

Tue Jun 13, 2017 | 9:19pm EDT

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali | WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump has given Defense Secretary Jim Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday, opening the door for future troop increases requested by the U.S. commander.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no immediate decision had been made about the troop levels, which are now set at about 8,400.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

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.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan right now,” Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier on Tuesday. “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.

A former U.S. official said 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.

Current and former U.S. officials say discussions revolve around adding 3,000 to 5,000 troops. Those forces are expected to be largely comprised of trainers to support Afghan forces, as well as air crews.

Deliberations include giving more authority to forces on the ground and taking more aggressive action against Taliban fighters.

Some U.S. 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.

Any increase of several thousand troops would leave American forces in Afghanistan well below their 2011 peak of more than 100,000 troops.

The Afghan government was assessed by the U.S. military to control or influence just 59.7 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts as of Feb. 20, a nearly 11 percentage-point decrease from the same time in 2016, according to data released by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

A truck bomb explosion in Kabul last month killed more than 150 people, making it the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a NATO-led coalition after ruling the country for five years.

On Saturday, three U.S. soldiers were killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them in eastern Afghanistan.

The broader regional U.S. strategy for Afghanistan remains unclear. Mattis promised on Tuesday to brief lawmakers on a new war strategy by mid-July that is widely expected to call for thousands more U.S. troops.

Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pressed Mattis on the deteriorating situation during the Tuesday hearing, saying the United States had an urgent need for “a change in strategy, and an increase in resources if we are to turn the situation around.”

“We recognize the need for urgency,” Mattis said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali. Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and John Walcott.; Editing by Andrew Hay and Bill Trott)

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U.S. Defense Secretary mentions Taiwan at Asia Security Summit

June 3, 2017

First mention of Taiwan at event since 2002

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Shangri-La Dialogue. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – United States Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Asia Security Summit in Singapore that Washington would abide by its commitment to Taiwan, reportedly angering Chinese delegates at the event, reports said Saturday.

In his speech at the first plenary session of the event, which is also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Trump Administration official included Taiwan in its regional strategic partnership with countries in the Asian region for the first time since the summit was launched in 2002.

“The Department of Defense remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government to provide it the defense articles necessary, consistent with the obligations set out in the Taiwan Relations Act, because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mattis was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post as saying.

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The Taiwan Relations Act was passed after U.S. President Jimmy Carter recognized China and allows Washington to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government is expected to hand over a list with a request for weapons to the Trump Administration, which has been regarded as more willing to supply arms to the island than its predecessors.

Mattis’s speech touched off a furious reaction from Chinese military delegates attending the summit, reports said. The defense secretary sent the wrong message to Taiwan’s pro-independence organizations, the South China Morning Post quoted one Chinese officer as saying.

Another senior military official from China said Mattis should also have mentioned agreements with Beijing, though the defense secretary later actually emphasized that the U.S. would stand by the “One China” principle, reports said.

http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3179163

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U.S. defense secretary says Syria dispersed warplanes, retains chemical weapons

April 21, 2017

Reuters

By Idrees Ali | TEL AVIV

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that Syria had dispersed its warplanes in recent days and that it retained chemical weapons, an issue he said would have to be taken up diplomatically.

The United States launched dozens of missiles earlier this month against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack that killed 90 people, including 30 children. It says the Syrian government launched the attack from the Shayrat air base.

The Pentagon has said that the strike had damaged or destroyed about 20 percent of the Syrian military’s operational aircraft.

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During a press conference alongside his Israeli counterpart, Mattis was asked whether the Syrian military had moved warplanes to a Russian base in Latakia.

“They have dispersed their aircraft, no doubt. They have dispersed their aircraft in recent days,” Mattis said.

Mattis also reiterated that the United States believed Syria had retained some chemical weapons.

“The bottom line is, I can say authoritatively they have retained some (chemical weapons). It’s a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it’s going to have to be taken up diplomatically,” Mattis said.

Israel’s military said on Wednesday it believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces still possess several tonnes of chemical weapons.

A senior Israeli military officer told Israeli reporters that “a few tonnes of chemical weapons” remained in the hands of Assad’s forces, a military official told Reuters.

In a 2013 agreement brokered by Russia and the United States, Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons, a global watchdog, said sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in the April 4 strike in Syria’s Idlib province.

Mattis later met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Before the start of their talks, Netanyahu said he was optimistic about relations between the two countries under the new U.S. administration.

The two countries are working to set a more positive tone after eight years of friction under President Donald Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Gareth Jones and Richard Lough)

Iran Tests Another Ballistic Missile — “A failed test of a reentry vehicle”

January 30, 2017

Iran has conducted another ballistic missile test, Fox News in the U.S. is reporting.

More to follow…

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 (In a phone call with President Trump, Saudi King Salman stressed the importance of closely monitoring Iran’s compliance with the Iran Nuclear deal…)

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Iran conducts ballistic missile test, US officials say

How would Gen. Mattis handle threat posed by Iran?

Iran on Sunday conducted a ballistic missile test in yet another apparent violation of a United Nations resolution, U.S. officials told Fox News.

The launch occurred at a well-known test site outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran.

The missile was a Khorramshahr medium range ballistic missile and traveled 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said.

U.N. resolution 2231 — put in place days after the Iran nuclear deal was signed — calls on the Islamic Republic not to conduct such tests, however, this is at least Iran’s second such test since July. The resolution bars Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years and went into effect July 20, 2015.

Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” according to the text of the resolution.

The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers does not include provisions preventing Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests.

Iran claims its ballistic missile tests are legitimate because they are not designed to carry a nuclear warhead.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/30/iran-conducts-ballistic-missile-test-us-officials-say.html

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25 Sep 2016 18:48:03 GMT
Service: Iran
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Iran Says It Is Able To Produce Any Kind of Missile
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Three types of missiles to be unveiled
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Iran’s defense minister said on Sunday Iran is now capable of designing and producing missiles with any range as well as any level of precision and destructive power.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the remarks at a plenary session of the Iran’s Parliament on Sunday, IRNA reported.

Dehqan also said the Islamic Republic is set to unveil three new types of missiles in the coming months, adding that state-of-the-art ballistic missile Zolfaqar has been put on the production line.

Iran is observing the Sacred Defense Week, which marks the 36th anniversary of the eight-year Iraqi war against the country.

“We will begin manufacturing three fundamental products in the area of missile [development] by the end of the year,” said the Iranian minister, stressing that the latest defense achievements will greatly promote the country’s defense might.

“These three missiles include Qadir, Sejil (solid-fuel long-range models) as well as high-precision Khorramshahr,” he added.

He further announced that Iran has now launched the production line of precision-guided solid-fuel anti-radar jamming missile Zolfaqar, Press TV reported.

Zolfaqar, with a range of 750 kilometers, is a multiple reentry vehicle (MRV) missile capable of carrying several warheads.

It is the latest generation of Iran’s long-range missiles and can carry out precision strikes against targets on the ground and airport tarmacs.

The missile was unveiled during a recent large-scale naval parade in Iran’s port city of Bandar Abbas.

Iran is now capable of designing and producing missiles with any range as well as any level of precision and destructive power when it comes to cruise types and the ones using solid or liquid fuel, he added.

In the future, Iran will develop ground-to-ground ballistic missiles that can hit maritime targets far away, Dehqan pointed out.

“In the area of missile defense, we know no limits to our might, and that is why we will continue to boost our defense power as scheduled,” Dehqan said.

He said Iran is the only country that enjoys peace and stability in a region severely troubled by violence, adding that the Islamic Republic is the standard-bearer of the fight against terror and leaves no stone unturned to restore calm to the region.

In recent years, Iran has made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.

Iran has also conducted military drills to enhance the defense capabilities of its armed forces and to test modern military tactics and state-of-the-art army equipment.

The Islamic Republic maintains that its military might poses no threat to other countries, stating that its defense doctrine is merely based on deterrence.

http://www.iran-daily.com/News/169264.html

France, Germany ‘worried’ about Trump’s moves to limit refugees

January 28, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© Geoffroy van der Hasselt / AFP | French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault holds a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel  in Paris on January 28, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-01-28

France and Germany voiced disquiet on Saturday over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to limit immigration and refugees from some Muslim countries, and they reaffirmed a firm line on Russian sanctions.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said many of Trump’s decisions worried the two U.S. allies, including new immigration restrictions.

Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will curb immigration and refugees from some Muslim-majority countries and he separately said he wanted the United States to give priority to Syrian Christians fleeing the civil war there.

Donald Trump will sign the Executive Orders today at 4:30 PM EST. This is a breakdown of the orders.

“This can only worry us, but there are many subjects that worry us,” Ayrault said, adding that he would soon invite his future American counterpart Rex Tillerson to Paris to explain Europe’s interests, values and vision of the world.

“Welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty,” Ayrault said.

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Germany has taken in more than one million refugees and migrants, mainly from the Middle East, since 2015.

Although traditionally open to asylum seekers, France has taken in far fewer refugees than Germany since the migrant crisis erupted. Some in the French government, mostly ex-premier Manuel Valls, criticising Berlin’s open-door policy, as has Trump.

“The United States is a country where Christian traditions have an important meaning. Loving your neighbour is a major Christian value, and that includes helping people,” said Germany’s Gabriel, who was on his first trip abroad since his nomination as foreign minister.

“I think that is what unites us in the West, and I think that is what we want to make clear to the Americans.”

The two countries also reiterated their position on Russian sanctions, saying they could only be lifted if progress was made in the peace process for eastern Ukraine, where a pro-Russian separatist insurgency began in 2014.

They joined British Prime Minister Theresa May in cautioning Trump against premature moves on the issue.

“Let’s not forget there was a war, that Russia sought to take over parts of Ukraine,” Ayrault said.

Trump said on Friday he was only in the early stages of considering whether to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia, but insisted he wanted to follow through on his campaign pledge to pursue better relations with Russia.

The French and German ministers also said the United Nations remained the best framework to lead peace talks about Syria in the aftermath of Russian-led efforts in the Kazakh capital Astana that some diplomats say might undermine the UN process.

Separately, Germany and France are also continuing to work on creating a joint tactical airlift pool of Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J military transport planes, a spokesman for the German defence ministry said on Saturday.

He could not confirm a report in Der Spiegel newsmagazine that the two countries expected to complete work on the deal and present it to U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels next month.

The magazine said German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen hoped to present the joint airlift as evidence of Germany’s willingness to contribute more to NATO.

Trump has criticised many European countries for not meeting a NATO target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defence.

(REUTERS)

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Mattis Tells German Defense Secretary US Under Trump Still Committed to NATO

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told German Defense Secretary Urusla von der Leyen that the administration of President Donald Trump remains committed to the NATO alliance.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The administration of President Donald Trump remains committed to the NATO alliance, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told German Defense Secretary Urusla von der Leyen in a telephone conversation, the Department of Defense said in a read out.

“The secretary assured the minister of the United States’ enduring commitment to the NATO alliance,” the read out stated on Thursday night.

Mattis also thanked von der Leyen for Germany’s leadership in NATO activities on the eastern flank and in Afghanistan, and acknowledged the role that her country plays in fighting terrorism, especially in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, the read out noted.

The two defense chiefs pledged to consult in the months to come and looked forward to working together at the Munich Security Conference in February, the read out added.

https://sputniknews.com/military/201701271050053655-mattis-trump-committed-nato/

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