U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis provided some details on Tuesday on the new American strategy in Afghanistan, unveiling the Pentagon’s newest acronym, “R4+S.”
“Our new strategy, vigorously reviewed and approved by President Trump, is ‘R4+S,’ which stands for regionalize, realign, reinforce, reconcile and sustain,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The United States is taking a more regional approach in an attempt to find a solution to the Afghan war. The new geographic framework includes cooperation and action involving India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, he said.
“We will firmly address Pakistan’s role. NATO’s demands need to be heard and embraced in Islamabad,” Mattis noted.
At the same time, the U.S. will be aligning more advisers to provide training and advisory support to the Afghan military. The advisers will also accompany local tactical units and ensure they have NATO fire support when needed, according to the defense secretary.
At present, the U.S. has some 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, while the NATO mission has deployed 6,800 servicemen. The number is bound to increase. Apart from some 3,000 additional troops pledged by Washington, 15 other NATO members have signaled their intent to increase the number of forces on the ground, Mattis said.
“Our goal is a stabilized Afghanistan, achieved through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process,” the secretary added.
During the hearing, members of the committee indicated that the new U.S. Afghanistan strategy still remained unclear. When Senator John McCain asked the committee members to raise their hands if they have been fully briefed on the plan, no one did so.