U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has yet to decide how many additional American troops he will send to Afghanistan to bolster the deadlocked fight with Taliban and Islamic State insurgents in the country, Pentagon said Friday.
“Secretary Mattis has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan,” said Dana W. White, the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman in a prepared statement, cited in reports.
“As he said throughout the week in testimony, the revised Afghanistan strategy will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks.”
White’s statement Friday was in response to a report by The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed Trump administration official as saying the Pentagon would send about 4,000 new American troops to Afghanistan.
That number is similar to previous reports from other U.S. officials, who have informed about deployment of new troops between 3,000 and 5,000 to assist Afghanistan in fight against the Taliban insurgency.
Mattis, who was granted authority this week by President Donald Trump to set troop levels for Afghanistan, is still finalizing the new plan for America’s longest-ever war, White said.
Currently, there are about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces in their fight against the insurgents and conducting counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda and Islamic State groups.