While the USA was focused on terrorism, potential adversaries have invested in technologies meant to "limit our ability to project power", he added. John McCain (R-Arizona), who blasted the Trump administration for not having a new strategy on how to deal with the worsening security situation in Afghanistan.
"If we told a shipbuilder with predictability that we were going to build 10 ships, it would take 10 ships's worth of steel, 10 ships" worth of copper piping, wiring and [DoD would know] it could cost "X, '" Dunford said.
"Let's not ask these families to sacrifice any further without a strategy, which we can then take and implement and help you", McCain said.
"We need bipartisan support for this budget request", the secretary told the committee.
"We're not wining in Afghanistan right now, and we will correct this as soon as possible", Mattis replied.
At the same time, McCain said the USA just "can't keep going like this" without having a workable strategy on Afghanistan.
The lack of a strategy is leading to losses on the battlefield, both men told Sen.
"We have to use not only our military forces, but we need the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, Commerce, and so on and so forth", he told Senate appropriators at a hearing last week. "It's going to be an era of frequent skirmishing and it's going to require a change in our approach from the last several years if we're to get it to that position".
The U.S. now has near 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, mostly operating in a NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and a U.S. -led mission to fight terror groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Senior US officials have sought recently to get China, a strong trade partner of North Korea, to put diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang to get them to back down from moving ahead with their weapons programmes. There are now 8,400 American service members serving and advising in Afghanistan.
The new strategy in Afghanistan would include a regional approach, Mattis said, including more contributions from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Dunford said the USA and its allies would win, but the casualties would be "unlike anything we've seen" in decades. Of the over 11,400 casualties, almost 3,500 were killed and 7,920 were wounded, marking a three percent increase in casualties from the year before.
In June 2016, President Barack Obama gave USA troops in Afghanistan more authority to offensively strike the Taliban. I was confident that, within the first 30 to 60 days, we would have a strategy on which to start working.
"That's not to say we can't get there as we look for common ground. We just lost three fearless Americans".
Observing that instability in the Middle East spills over into other regions, Mattis said extremists and extremist ideologies have spread to Europe, Africa and Asia. Syrian President Bashar Assad is "flexing his muscle" and moving to break through to the surrounded government garrison in Deir-ez-Zor.
"We can maintain our competitive advantage with sustained sufficient and predictable funding", he said.