Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is reportedly set to announce an increase of about 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Most of the US boots on the ground will train or advise Afghan forces, but some will battle both a resurgent Taliban and Islamic State.
The Associated Press reported Thursday evening that the Pentagon will deploy nearly 4,000 more US troops to Afghanistan, based on information from an unnamed administration official.
The Trump administration official told AP that an official announcement may come next week.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon, headed by Secretary Mattis, to determine the number of US forces necessary to take on the twin insurgencies of the Taliban and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The majority of the newly deployed US forces will reportedly be training and advising Afghan troops, while some others will carry out counterterrorism operations.
There have been about 2,400 US military deaths in the war-torn country since congressional authorization for military force in Afghanistan took effect in 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, where 2,996 Americans were killed and more than double that were wounded.
Currently in Afghanistan there are an estimated 9,800 US troops, about 2,000 of whom directly combating the Taliban and IS. However, not included in official Pentagon counts are at least 2,000 more troops considered temporary, even though they can be kept in Afghanistan for months.
The reported plan to deploy an additional 4,000 troops would be the largest increase so far during Trump’s presidency.
Former President Barack Obama ordered a “surge” of 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan in 2009, which brought the total up to 100,000 troops. Obama withdrew troops during the rest of his two terms.
Three US soldiers were killed and one was wounded during an attack this past weekend, which the Taliban claimed to have carried out.