The Pentagon on Wednesday finally revealed that there are close to 11,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, much more than the 8,400 acknowledged under the Obama administration's troop cap.
To keep the public count low, military officials used creative accounting techniques, including labeling some troops as "temporary" and moving soldiers around, The Associated Press reports. The Pentagon is getting ready to deploy thousands of additional troops, in order to help train Afghan forces and launch counterterror operations against the Taliban and groups linked to al-Qaeda, and it's believed that within a few months, there will be 15,000 or so U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told AP that providing accurate numbers "is an attempt to actually clarify a very confusing set of reporting rules that has the unintended consequence of forcing commanders to make readiness tradeoffs as they deploy their forces." He added that no final decisions have been made yet about future deployments to Afghanistan, but Defense Secretary James Mattis should finalize a plan soon.