External Affairs

No Decision Made on US Troops in Afghanistan

US soldiers from D Troop of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment walk on a hill after finishing with a training exercise near forward operating base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan December 30, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Files

Washington: The Pentagon said on Thursday it has not yet reached a decision on future troop levels in Afghanistan, amid speculation that defence secretary Jim Mattis may have finalised plans for an increase in forces to help break a stalemate with the Taliban.

“No decisions have been made,” said defence department spokesman Jeff Davis, when asked about an Associated Press report that Mattis had decided on sending nearly 4,000 additional troops.

Still, that figure would be in line with previous comments by US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity. Reuters has reported that US deliberations were focused on sending between 3,000 and 5,000 troops to Afghanistan, where American forces have been fighting for nearly 16 years.

One official told Reuters last month that 3,800 troops could be sent but cautioned that could change, given discussions with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies about their potential contributions. About 8,400 US troops are now deployed in Afghanistan.

Mattis said in testimony before the US Senate on June 14 that he is just weeks away from presenting to US President Donald Trump a new strategy that will inform his decision on troop numbers. Trump authorised Mattis to set future Afghan troop levels on Tuesday.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.