Pentagon Admits True Number of Troops in Afghanistan

Troop total had been understated by thousands
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2017 12:49 AM CDT
Pentagon Admits Understating Afghanistan Troop Total
A US Marine takes part during a training session for Afghan army commandos in Shorab military camp in Helmand province, Afghanistan last week.   (Massoud Hossaini)

Pentagon officials have finally acknowledged the actual number of American forces in Afghanistan after long camouflaging the total in misleading accounting measures and red tape. Senior Defense Department officials said Wednesday there are about 11,000 US forces currently deployed to Afghanistan—thousands more than the 8,400 that were allowed under the previous administration's troop cap. Military officials have long quietly acknowledged there were far more forces in the country than the cap allowed, but commanders shuffled troops in and out, labeled many "temporary," and used other personnel accounting tactics to artificially keep the public count low, the AP reports.

Pentagon officials refused to provide similar details for Iraq and Syria, where there also are thousands more US troops than the Pentagon publicly admits. The Afghanistan troop numbers announcement comes as the Pentagon is preparing to deploy several thousand more Americans to the country in order to expand the training and advising of Afghan forces and beef up counterterror operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked groups. Officials have said the US will send as many as 3,900 more troops to the war—which would bring the number of publicly recognized troops there to about 15,000. (President Trump says he is going against his "original instinct" on Afghanistan.)

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