The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it has approximately 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, about 2,600 more than the officially released total of 8,400. The accounting change, said spokesperson Dana White, reverses an Obama-era practice that excluded short-duration missions, partial-unit deployments and other elisions.
With a more accurate total of the current force levels in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will now turn to a decision on a troop increase in America’s longest war, following an August 21 strategic announcement by President Trump blessing a plus-up. White and the Joint Staff director, Marine Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie, heralded the new accounting as a win for “transparency,” but indicated that it will remain approximate for “operational security” reasons. And it remains unclear if the same accounting will apply for troop levels in Iraq and Syria, where the Obama-era Pentagon frequently under-disclosed the true size of the force commitment.