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The US Has Thousands More Troops in Afghanistan Than the Public Knew

The Department of Defense admitted Wednesday that there were roughly 11,000 troops on the ground instead of the 8,400 that was previously reported.

Alexa Liautaud

The United States has thousands more troops in Afghanistan than previously disclosed, the Department of Defense admitted Wednesday, saying there were roughly 11,000 troops on the ground instead of about 8,400—the number it had previously reported.

The change in estimate is an attempt to be more transparent in the US' war effort and to account for a complex set of military accounting procedures that frustrate commanders in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said. But it also comes a few weeks after the Trump administration announced a plan to send 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, which Secretary of Defense James Mattis addressed last week saying he wanted to be sure how many were actually on the ground before making that commitment.

"This is not an attempt to bring more forces in," Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the staff of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told reporters at the briefing. "But it is an attempt to actually clarify a very confusing set of reporting rules that has the unintended consequence of forcing commanders to make readiness trade-offs."

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