Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signs orders to send more troops to Afghanistan

US President Donald Trump before a military audience at Fort Myer in Arlington Virginia

The Pentagon sharply raised its estimate of the number of U.S. troops now in Afghanistan Wednesday, ahead of a decision on adding thousands more under President Donald Trump's new strategy for the war-ridden country.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has announced he's signed an order to send more troops into Afghanistan.

"At the same time, it does protect" specific force information that could be used against forces on the ground, he said, adding: "We're saying the number's 11,000 today, and we'll go up or down slightly based on the operational requirement".

Pentagon spokesperson Dana White announced Wednesday that there are approximately 11,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

The White House earlier this year announced that setting troop levels for Afghanistan, as well as Washington's war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, would fall to the Pentagon chief.

Yet, US officials told Reuters news agency that President Donald Trump has given Mattis the authority to send about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

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The disclosure came after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed frustration with how troops in war zones were counted.

Prior to the announcement, the Pentagon would only acknowledge approximately 8,400 troops accounted for under force management level orders from the Obama administration. "The Pentagon reports only 5,765".

"We will characterize all forces necessary for the steady-state missions of train, advise, assist and counterterrorism as total forces", McKenzie said.

The number of US troops deployed to Afghanistan was higher than what Americans were being told. "No deployment orders have been issued", he said. "In the operation the U.S. forces came under the attack by the Taliban and foreign forces returned fire and forced the Taliban insurgents to hide in the civilian houses nearby", Saleem Saleh, a spokesman for the Logar provincial governor, told AFP.

"The Secretary has determined we must simplify our accounting methodology and improve the public's understanding of America's military commitment in Afghanistan", Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White reportedly said. Mattis is also expected to deploy Marine artillery detachments and approve an increase in combat air support to include F-16 fighter jets, A-10 ground attack planes and B-52 bombers, according to the Post.

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