WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States has about 11,000 troops stationed inside Afghanistan, which is 2,600 more than previously reported, the Pentagon revealed Wednesday.
This is part of the new transparent accounting procedure set in motion by the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Chief Pentagon Spokesman Dana W White told reporters at a news conference.
“Under the new, simplified accounting methodology, the current total forces number in Afghanistan is approximately 11,000. This does not include any potential future adjustments the Secretary of Defense may make in order to accomplish the president’s new strategy for South Asia,” said Marine Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie, Director of Joint Staff.
This number of 11,000 is an approximation, he said. “The number may be slightly above that, it may be slightly below that. It will certainly vary,” he added.
White said this is not an announcement of a troop increase. “We are simply being more transparent about the way we communicate America’s military commitment in Afghanistan, while still protecting sensitive information,” White said.
McKenzie said in November 2016, the previous administration authorized the increase of the force manning level to 8,448. And until now, the department has routinely reported approximately 8,400 forces, with a complex series of authorized exemptions above that.
Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said he is pleased to see that ahead of the execution of a new strategy in Afghanistan, the US President Donald Trump and Secretary Mattis have chosen to put the facts on the table.
“The Obama Administration did not shoot straight on how many people they sent to Afghanistan, which added cost to the mission and made it harder to succeed. It is important to be upfront about the importance of the mission and what it takes to succeed,” he said.
White said similar calculation of troops is being done in Iraq.
McKenzie said the new force management process allows openness and transparency with the American people and US allies while avoiding giving information of use to an enemy.
“We will characterize all forces necessary for the steady-state missions of train, advise, assist and counterterrorism as total forces. Included in total forces in Afghanistan will be the troops required for short-duration missions, which vary based upon operational conditions, but are not needed for the duration of the operation,” he added.