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U.S. Defense Chief Signs Orders Sending More Troops To Afghanistan

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he has signed the orders to send additional troops to Afghanistan as part of President Donald Trump's new strategy to fight the 16-year war against the Taliban and other insurgents.

Mattis told reporters on August 31 that the fresh troops will “enable the Afghan force to fight more effectively. It is more advisers, it is more enablers -- fire support, for example."

He added, though, that the deployment orders were not complete and that military leaders were still identifying “specific” additional troops to include as part of the deployment.

Mattis did not disclose the number of troops to be added to the U.S. contingent in Afghanistan, although officials have indicated it will be about 4,000.

The Pentagon on August 30 sharply raised its estimate of the number of U.S. troops already serving in Afghanistan, putting the figure at approximately 11,000.

The Pentagon had previously listed 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan but said the new figure was determined after a comprehensive review and a desire to give a more transparent accounting of the size of the U.S. force.

U.S. troops have led a NATO force assisting the Afghan government in the fight against the Taliban since 2001.

At its peak, the U.S. military had some 100,000 troops in the country before scaling back and handing active combat operations over to Afghan forces.

Based on reporting by AP, APF, and Reuters