Pentagon raises Afghanistan troop estimate to 11000

Fibbing Troop Levels and the Need for Transparency

The release of the new figures followed the implementation of new accounting methods, as even the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis himself was unsure how many troops he had in Afghanistan.

Instead, the latest voiced figure is a "reality over the past 6 months" the Joint Staff Director added.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White declined to provide similar details for Iraq and Syria, where there also are thousands more than the Pentagon publicly admits.

Based on troop caps instituted by the Obama administration, the number of US forces in Iraq has consistently been reported as 5,262, but officials say there are actually more than 7,000.

Frank McKenzie said for the first time that the actual number in Afghanistan is about 11,000.

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White said that "way of doing business is over".

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White and Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director of the US military's Joint Staff, blamed the significant undercount on head-counting rules the Obama administration had devised. He would not say whether that is in part due to sensitivities in Iraq over the number of USA troops deployed there. Official statements from the military of civilian sectors of government, as well as references to foreign troop numbers in the news media, were consistently lower than some more accurate (or inclusive) internal Defense Department estimates. To contribute to the troop increase, the 4th Brigade is likely to deploy more of its troops rather than send just enough to replace those in the 1st Armored Division.

"In both theaters, eventually we'll apply the same two pillars: balancing transparency of reporting with a requirement to protect the forces on the ground and give the commander maximum operational flexibility", McKenzie said. On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said Mattis had directed Dunford "to put together a plan to achieve the strategic goals of the president's strategy".

About 2,400 Americans have died in the war, the longest in United States history. The vast majority of USA casualties took place under Obama's tenure.

The force levels, which are officially at 5,262 in Iraq and 503 in Syria, are believed by USA officials to be more than a couple of thousands troops shy of the actual number of US forces in both countries. With more units farther away from the country's biggest bases, additional air support and artillery will be needed to cover those forces.

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