Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. is sending another 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, an increase of over 25 percent in the number of American forces there.
Mattis told reporters Monday at the Pentagon that the boost in U.S. troop strength would be “over 3,000,” but he declined to name a specific number. “Frankly, I haven’t signed the last of the orders right now,” he said.
“Most of them are on their way or under orders now,” Mattis said, “and I’d prefer not to give any more information that helps the enemy.”
Top military brass at the Pentagon have been calling the current situation in Afghanistan a “stalemate,” and asking for more troops.
The new deployment will raise the number of U.S. forces in the South Asian country to over 14,000, as the 16th anniversary of war there approaches. American forces moved into Afghanistan to overthrow an administration led by the Taliban and members of the al-Qaida terror network in late 2001, following the attacks ordered by Osama bin Laden against New York and Washington on September 11 of that year.
The decision to send in more troops caps President Donald Trump’s change of heart on how to deal with the Afghanistan conflict, America’s longest war. Before his election last year, candidate Trump had routinely called for a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In August, however, Trump said he was responding to military commanders’ requests for more troops, and establishing what he called a “conditions-based approach” to evaluating troop levels and military operations in Afghanistan.