Defense Secretary James Mattis told Congress on Wednesday that President Trump gave him the authority to change the amount of U.S. forces able to deploy to the Afghanistan in a move that reverses an Obama administration policy that had the president establish troop levels.
Obama had planned to draw down all but a small embassy presence in the war-torn country by the time he left office in 2017, but 8,400 U.S. troops were left in place after the Taliban returned to fill the void and now controls roughly one-third of the country.
Mattis noted in a statement that having the authority to change the troop levels did not in itself mean a change. Although a plan recommended by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to add between 3,000 to 5,000 more forces reportedly has his support, along with the support of National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
An unnamed official has been quoted in a report from Breitbart claiming that approximately 4,000 additional troops will be sent to the region, with the bulk of those forces to be tasked with training and advising Afghan forces, while a percentage would join the counter-terror mission against the Taliban and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Mattis said a strategy would be ready in mid-July, but gave no more information.
To see more stories like this, sign up below for Dennis Michael Lynch’s email newsletter.
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.