Pentagon hasn’t finalized Afghanistan troop numbers

Pentagon hasn’t finalized Afghanistan troop numbers
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The Pentagon is still working through plans and troop numbers for President Trump’s newly announced Afghanistan strategy, a spokesman said Monday.

Army Col. Robert Manning told reporters that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE has directed Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford “to put together a plan to achieve the strategic goals of the president’s strategy.”

“Once the chairman provides the recommendations, the secretary will determine how to move forward and how many additional troops we will need to send,” Manning added.

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Trump last week announced he would ramp up the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, part of his administration's rollout of a new strategy to win the nation's longest-running war.

But despite the primetime address, Pentagon leadership still must hold several discussions, Manning said.

“We got the guidance on the South Asia policy, the strategy from the president, and there are things that need to happen, discussions that need to occur within the department for the secretary to make decisions,” he said in response to questions from reporters.

Manning would not say what decisions are yet to be made.

The administration has not announced how many troops are expected to deploy to Afghanistan. It is expected to send 3,900 additional forces to add to the 12,000 troops the U.S. maintains in the country. There are currently 8,500 deployed troops and another 3,500 on temporary assignment or other status.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, said last week that the first new troops could arrive in the country within a few weeks.

Manning said Votel “is not incorrect,” but he would not offer more details.