(Wikimedia/Deptartment of Defense)

The Pentagon plans to send nearly 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan

The Taliban now control or contest more territory since before 2001, and the war in Afghanistan has no clear end


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Charlie May
June 18, 2017 9:56PM (UTC)

In a war that has now seen its third president, the Pentagon plans to send nearly 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.

The news comes as President Donald Trump recently gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority to establish troop levels and as concerns have come from "the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan that he doesn’t have enough forces to help Afghanistan’s army against a resurgent Taliban insurgency," according to the Post. Trump has not spoken to or met with Iraq or Afghanistan commander once.

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Most of the troops will help train or advise Afghan forces, while a smaller number of troops will be dedicated to "counterterror operations against the Taliban and IS," according to the Post.

The Post reported:

Although Trump has delegated authority for U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan, the responsibility for America’s wars and the men and women who fight in them rests on his shoulders. Trump has inherited America’s longest conflict with no clear endpoint or a defined strategy for American success, though U.S. troop levels are far lower than they were under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. In 2009, Obama authorized a surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, bringing the total there to more than 100,000, before drawing down over the rest of his presidency.

The resurgence of the Taliban has been forceful as they now control or contest more than 40 percent of territory in Afghanistan which means they now hold "more ground than at any point since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001," according to the Los Angeles Times. A graphic from Vice also shows their territorial dominance.

In two separate incidents last week U.S. service members in Afghanistan have been shot at by men dressed in Afghan army uniforms who were actually working for the Taliban. One of the incidents left three U.S. soldiers dead. "Mattis has repeatedly stressed that increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would take place within a broader, long-term strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan," the Post reported. While answering questions from Congress in a hearing last week it wasn't clear if Mattis would ask for more troops in the future.

"All wars come to an end," Mattis told the House Appropriations panel on Thursday, according to the Post. "Our job is to end it as quickly as possible without losing the very mission that we’ve recognized, through several administrations, that was worth putting those young Americans on the line for."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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