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Once Described As On Its ‘Back Foot,’ Taliban Number Around 60,000, General Says
The U.S. military and Afghan security forces face roughly 60,000 Taliban fighters, the Marine three-star general who has been nominated to lead U.S. Central Command told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. initially testified during his confirmation hearing that the Taliban have about 20,000 fighters, but he later said he had misspoke.
“I’d like to correct an earlier remark,” McKenzie told U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “I noted the size of the Taliban in Afghanistan as being 20,000. I believe we’d actually say it’s around 60,000 vice that earlier number.”
Neither Hirono nor the other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked McKenzie if the Taliban is growing in strength.
Currently, about 14,000 U.S. troops are deployed to Afghanistan, along with roughly 8,165 troops from other countries, and approximately 312,328 Afghan troops and police, officials said.
The U.S. military command for operations in Afghanistan declined to say how many fighters it believes the Taliban currently have, said Army Maj. Bariki Mallya, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support.
“Our estimates of the number of Taliban fighters have remained stable over time,” said fellow Resolute Support spokesman Army Col. David Butler. “We are less concerned about numbers and pay more attention to capability and trajectory. The Afghan security forces are working to stay on the offensive against the Taliban and set the conditions for a political settlement.”
But 17 years into the Afghanistan war, the Taliban is actually much larger than the U.S. military admits, said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, D.C.
“The Taliban’s strength is likely to number well over 100,000 fighters,” Roggio wrote in a Nov. 26 article for the Long War Journal, which he edits. “US military and intelligence officials who track the Taliban agree. One official told LWJ that the Taliban likely has more than 70,000 fighters and tens of thousands of support personnel and supporters.
Another said that the Taliban “could not possibly do what it has done with merely 40,000 fighters; double or more realistically triple that number, and you are closer to the truth.”
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Oceanside girl in 2017, federal prosecutors in San Diego said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.