Trump at Pentagon to Review New Strategy for Afghanistan

In addition to supporting the government against the Taliban, U.S. forces are also involved in an operation to destroy the small Islamic State presence in Afghanistan.

The funds being withheld come from the so-called Coalition Support Fund, a Pentagon program to reimburse countries that are supporting counterterrorism operations.

"We're not going to discuss White House meetings or direction", said Adam Stump, a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman, when Breitbart News asked whether or not it has been forced to start developing the Afghanistan war strategy from scratch and when it expects to present the plan to Trump. The Pentagon repeatedly has said its Afghanistan war plan would be on President Trump's desk by mid-July. Those hopes were bolstered when the administration announced decisions on troop numbers would be the exclusive domain of Mr. Mattis and his staff.

Of the rest, $300 million had already been reprogrammed for other purposes, but had not been previously reported. Mattis' predecessor, Ash Carter, similarly refused to certify Pakistan was adequately combating the Haqqani Network causing Congress to withhold $300 million in funding.

The Haqqani Network is considered to be the most capable and violent branch of the Afghan Taliban. The year before, U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top U.S. military officer, caused a stir when he told Congress that the Haqqani network was a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Afghan officials have blamed the group for the May truck bombing in Kabul that killed almost 100 people.

The Pentagon has decided not to reimburse U.S. $50 millions to Pakistan this year citing the country's failure to take "sufficient action" against Haqqani network.

In his Friday statement, Stump said the Pentagon's decision does not diminish the efforts of the Pakistani military.

The defense secretary is believed to be close to authorizing up to an additional 5,000 new troops to Afghanistan, which would be a significant increase from the current level of almost 8,400 USA troops.

"The Department recognizes the significant sacrifices the Pakistan military has made in the fight against terrorism, and appreciates Pakistan's continued support for transit of materiel to coalition forces in Afghanistan", Stump said.

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade, with USA officials frustrated by what they term Islamabad's unwillingness to act against terror groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

The report also listed Pakistan among countries with safe haven for terrorist organizations. "However, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to operate in other locations in Pakistan".

  • Rogelio Becker