Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, has become famous for one thing. Since he took office, he has refused to give information about American troops that are deployed elsewhere. However, the tough man decided to address the issue this week from his Capitol Hill office. He had come under fire from the Armed Services Committee through its Chairman Senator John McCain and other lawmakers who wanted him to offer more information about the war in Afghanistan. While addressing the issue, Jim Mattis revealed that the US army had adopted aggressive rules of engagement in the war-torn region. However, according to officials and American service members in Afghanistan, the changes that the secretary of defense talked about have not been issued to the troops. This can be attributed to a bureaucratic limbo that has been ongoing concerning the new rules. What remains unclear is the reason why a secretary of defense publicly discussed classified rules of engagement. Pentagon has been open about the issue saying that no change has been implemented so far. Through their spokesman, the Pentagon said that it disagreed with Mr. Mattis for discussing information that would result in endangering the lives of American troops in the region.
However, this is just a revelation of the difficult position that the secretary of defense has found himself in. Mr. Mattis wanted to show that the nation is still committed to the Afghanistan war, the longest running war at the moment. He also showed that he weighed in on the demands of American lawmakers who have demanded transparency on these issues. From the information released by Mr. Mattis, the Taliban learned that they are no longer safe in their sanctuaries. At the same time, this information helped the Taliban eliminate the element of surprise which is very crucial in every battle. While battlefield commanders in the region have called for aggressive measures in dealing with the Taliban, they didn’t expect the secretary of defense to discuss the issue in public. In fact, current and retired military officials all agree that Mr. Mattis closed the line. Veteran infantry officer and Center for a New American Security executive known as Jason Dempsey says he didn’t understand why a man who is very selective of what he says in public would spill information about war. The old rules required American forces to shoot at Taliban if they only posed danger. The new rules will see the American forces go on the offensive even when not provoked.