The Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third US commander in chief. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump's young presidency.
The decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week, the official said. It follows Trump's move to give
Mattis the authority to set troop levels and seeks to address assertions by the top US commander in Afghanistan that he doesn't have enough forces to help Afghanistan's army against a resurgent Taliban insurgency. The rising threat posed by Islamic State extremists, evidenced in a rash of deadly attacks in the capital city of Kabul, has only fueled calls for a stronger US presence, as have several recent American combat deaths.
The bulk of the additional troops will train and advise Afghan forces, according to the administration official, who wasn't authorized to discuss details of the decision publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A smaller number would be assigned to counterterror operations against the Taliban and IS, the official said.
Asked for comment, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said, "No decisions have been made."