US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,as he prefers being called,spoke with reporters yesterday in Abu Dhabi,UAE:
We anticipated that we might not be able to get into Afghanistan due to weather.We got the weather report yesterday.I was fortunate yesterday,before we left Munich,to speak with Afghan President Ghani at length.We were both there,and we took advantage of that opportunity,knowing I might not be able to see him today as we initially planned.I had a very in-depth discussion about the way ahead in Afghanistan.
And then I spoke by picture-video teleconference-with our NATO commander in the field,General Nicholson,and that went on for several hours,and this is all part of my getting my feet on the deck in terms of getting current on the situation that the coalition forces in Afghanistan face,both politically and strategically,and identifying the way ahead.*
On the situation in Afghanistan right now,again,my point in talking to President Ghani and talking to our field commander,the NATO field commander,is to gain their political and military appreciation of the situation.We're putting our thoughts together now.*
President Trump has been rightly reticent on it,because he's waiting for my assessment and the assessment from the intelligence community.And he's open to my advice on it;but first of all,I've got to formulate where I stand,and so this is the normal collection of the information,and to assess what other countries in the region are doing to help or hinder our efforts there.So we're still sorting that out and here shortly I'll have my thoughts collected.It shouldn't take too long;but I've got a fair number of issues in order to give a good recommendation for the way ahead.*
So I think it was a lot more damaging to the Taliban,and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces paid a very heavy price to keep the Taliban on their back foot,but they paid it;they've held;and the Taliban is in a worse position today,even though I do not equate that to success on our side.*
I would not in any way contest it has been a hard fight all the way through.I think that's a very accurate point.I would question who came out on the shorter end of the stick.Right now I'd rather be on NATO's-be in NATO's position right now than I would want to be in the Taliban's,the retired US Marine Corps general and new Defense Secretary Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis told the journalists in Abu Dhabi yesterday.