New US military authorization powers must not be geographically or time constrained in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said during a Senate hearing on Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
“Any new AUMF must not be time restricted, for example President Trump’s South Asia strategy is conditions based, not time based because war is fundamentally unpredictable,” Mattis said on Monday. “We cannot put a firm timeline on conflict against an adaptive enemy.”
He also said the authority should not be geographically constrained because the United States is facing a transnational enemy that does not place geographical limits on its areas of operations. The 2001 and 2002 AUMF amendments should not be repealed and are a “sound basis” for current military operations, he added.
Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the AUMF amendments regarding current military operations.
The Trump and Obama administrations cited the two AUMF resolutions approved by Congress following the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, DC as the legal basis for US forces fighting terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. However, members of Congress have claimed that a new AUMF is needed to satisfy a constitutional requirement that Congress declare war and not the president.
The House of Representatives presented a proposal earlier this month for a new AUMF that would authorize the use of American forces for five years against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Daesh terrorist groups and any persons associated with these terrorist groups, but would require congressional approval to expand the effort to additional countries.