The Pentagon revealed Wednesday that roughly 11,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, 2,600 more than the U.S. military had previously disclosed to the public.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White and Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director of the U.S. military’s Joint Staff, blamed the significant undercount on head-counting rules the Obama administration had devised.
The Obama-era policies did not include troops deployed for less than six-months — a stint the military considers a “temporary basis” — as part of the military’s total for Afghanistan. Because the Obama administration had set caps on the number of troops allowed to be deployed to active war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, U.S. commanders found ways to supplement their forces by “temporarily” adding additional troops who would not be counted.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, front left, U.S. Central Command's senior enlisted advisor, talks with Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Shane R. Wagner during a visit to Forward Operating Base Oqab in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2017.U.S. Air Force photo
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis expressed frustration with the approach and ordered a comprehensive review to give a more accurate picture of the U.S. military footprint, following last week’s announcement by President Donald Trump of a new military strategy in Afghanistan.
“The secretary has been clear about his commitment to transparency in our public reporting procedures and increasing commanders’ ability to adapt to battlefield conditions in countering emergent threats,” White told reporters at the Pentagon.
“Following a comprehensive review of our South Asia strategy, the secretary has determined we must simplify our accounting methodology and improve … the public’s understanding of America’s military commitment in Afghanistan.”
White said the new figures represent transparency in regard to total U.S. forces. He did not provide numbers, however for troop in Iraq and Syria, saying they were “under review.”
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin fires a fortress cannon. (Associated Press/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Russia will target the U.S. with new weapons should Washington decide to deploy intermediate-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to Europe following the recent death of a Cold War-era arms control agreement, according to multiple reports.
He threatened to target not only the host countries where U.S. missiles might be stationed but also decision-making centers in the U.S.