The Pentagon plans to send approximately 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a Trump administration official said Thursday. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could announce the move early next week, which would make it the largest deployment under the Trump administration thus far.
The decision “follows Trump’s move to give Mattis the authority to set troop levels and seeks to address assertions by the top U.S. 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 U.S. presence, as have several recent American combat deaths,” according to a new report from The Associated Press.
The additional troops will train and advise Afghan forces, with some being assigned to counterterror operations against the Taliban and ISIS, the Trump administration official told the AP. The 4,000 additional troops would add to the 8,500 troops already deployed in the country.
A spokesman for the Afghanistan defense ministry, Daulat Waziri,said the Afghan government supports the United States’ decision to send in more troops.
‘The United States knows we are in the fight against terrorism. We want to finish this war in Afghanistan with the help of the NATO alliance.’
‘We are the frontline in the war against international terrorism.’
During testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis said the U.S. is “not winning” the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and that he intends to address the issue.
‘We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. And we will correct this as soon as possible.’
Many U.S. officials have questioned whether or not it’s worth it to send in more troops. Over 2,300 Americans have died on Afghan soil, with over 17,000 who have been injured since the war’s inception in 2001.
In May, a truck bomb explosion in Kabul killed over 150 people, the deadliest attack in the country’s capital since 2001. On Saturday, three U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan when an Afghan soldier opened fire.
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) told Mattis the United States needs to change its strategy and increase resources in the area in order to improve the situation.
Mattis recognized McCain’s concern, saying:
‘We recognize the need for urgency.’
Watch Mattis’ testimony in the clip below:
Featured Image via Getty Images.