U.S. still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan, says Mattis

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U.S. Defence Minister James N. Mattis is seen during a press conference before the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis at a press conference in June 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the Trump administration is still trying to get right what he calls “the big ideas” for a new Afghanistan war strategy.

Mattis was asked what is holding up the administration’s strategy review at an impromptu news conference with reporters at the Pentagon. Mattis had told Congress in June that he would have it ready by mid-July.

Mattis revealed no details of the ongoing administration debate in his remarks at the Pentagon.

He cast the problem in the context of past American wars, including those that did not end well — such as Vietnam — and those that still have not ended, such as Iraq. He said he wants to be sure there is administration agreement on the political goals as well as the military means.

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