Friday's Camp David talks on Afghanistan appear to have ended without a final decision by President Trump on troop levels, as he continues to resist pressure from top cabinet officials to sign off on a massive escalation of the 16-year-old conflict with thousands of fresh troops.
Mattis, meanwhile, promised again Thursday that the administration is "coming very close to a decision, and I anticipate it in the very near future". R McMaster, who heads the national security Council.
The afghan army has suffered losses unsustainable, the central government is weak and corrupt, and even the group islamic State seems poised to gain a foothold in the country.
United States troops in Afghanistan now number about 8,400, a far cry from the U.S. presence of more than 100,000 six years ago. But Trump is also hearing from the retired generals he has entrusted with key national security positions - including Mattis and White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster - that it would be a mistake to withdraw from Afghanistan completely.
In the letter to Trump, the Taliban wrote: "Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than the further destruction of American military and economic might". Mattis has said he won't exercise that authority until there's an approved strategy.
Cordesman also suggested that Trump's reported criticism of the top USA commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Nicholson, "likely stems from Nicholson told him the truth and the truth is unpleasant".
"It's a hard situation and there's no real silver bullet, but what's clear is the policy of leave now and precipitously withdraw our troops is a real recipe for disaster", said Andrew Wilder, vice president of Asia programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, who advocates a modest troop increase.
I have reiterated time and again that the United States will not get out of Afghanistan and will keep a permanent presence in that country.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, whom Trump considered for a Cabinet post, said he's questioned the president's ability to lead. Mattis told lawmakers in June that the new strategy would be unveiled by mid-July.
Mattis, speaking alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department, echoed comments he made at the Pentagon earlier in the week when he said all options for the war in Afghanistan remained under consideration. Politicians like Imran Khan now openly say that Pakistan under General Musharraf fought "America's war", and set an entire population of Pashtuns against Pakistan. The Afghan government controls only 60 percent of territory and civilian deaths are hovering near a record, according to the report.
Prince's plan was presented to Mattis by Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
It was not known whether Prince's proposal was brought up at the meeting. Second, the president appears desperate to avoid any strategy that even vaguely resembles Obama's approach to Afghanistan.
In the lengthy statement, the Taliban criticized the Afghan government as "stooges", "lying corrupt leaders" and "repulsive sellouts" who are providing Washington with overly optimistic "rosy pictures" of the situation in Afghanistan.
The attack also wounded two employees, but the identity of the gunmen was unknown, said Iqbal Nezami, a spokesman for the provincial police.