US Defense Secretary visits Afghanistan following deadly attack

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was in Afghanistan, following a deadly Taliban assault. At least 140 soldiers were killed last week inside their base. The attack has led to several resignations within the Afghan military.

CGTN’s Catherine James filed this report.

US Defense Secretary visits Afghanistan following deadly attack

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was in Afghanistan, following a deadly Taliban assault. At least 140 soldiers were killed last week inside their base. The attack has led to several resignations within the Afghan military. CGTN's Catherine James reports.

Mattis, the first member of U.S. President Donald Trump’s cabinet to visit the country, was meeting with officials of the U.S.’s joint mission with NATO Operation Resolute Support, as well as Afghan government and security officials, including President Ashraf Ghani.

With the U.S. in its 16th year of military intervention in Afghanistan, Mattis sought to downplay the significance of insurgent attacks, such as Friday’s Taliban assault on one of Afghanistan’s largest military bases in which more than 140 soldiers were killed and scores more wounded.

“We’re in an era of frequent skirmishing. It’s going to be far flung, and that’s the nature of this fight and concise short definitions in one local area do not give sufficient credit to really defining the complexity of the issue,” Mattis said.

Hours before Mattis arrived, the Afghan Minister of Defense resigned along with the Army Chief of Staff.

The pair took responsibility for security failures that contributed to Friday’s Taliban attack.

America’s top commander in Kabul, General John Nicholson, reiterated Mattis’ message that the U.S. stands firmly by Afghanistan in its fight against insurgencies, including ISIL.

“I will say we were sending a very clear message to ISIS, not only to ISIS here in Afghanistan but also to ISIS main if they come here to Afghanistan, they will be destroyed, in keeping with the secretary’s intent, they will be annihilated. And so this continuing pressure we’re putting on ISIS is achieving that effect and we’re going to keep it up,” Nicholson said.

General Nicholson was referring to the U.S. military dropping America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIL targets in east Afghanistan two weeks ago.

All these events, along with Nicholson’s request for the U.S. to send more troops to Afghanistan, has many questioning whether there is any sign of America exiting its longest running war, despite announcing mission success in 2014.