The Pentagon sharply raised its estimate of the number of U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan Wednesday, ahead of a decision on adding thousands more under President Donald Trump's new strategy for the war-ridden country.
Pentagon Joint Staff Director Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie said a comprehensive review showed there were approximately 11,000 uniformed U.S. servicemen and women in Afghanistan, compared to the 8,400 number used since last year.
Military officials have long quietly acknowledged there were far more forces in the country than the cap allowed, but commanders shuffled troops in and out, labeled many "temporary," and used other personnel accounting tactics to artificially keep the public count low.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White declined to provide similar details for Iraq and Syria, where there also are thousands more than the Pentagon publicly admits.
The new count, which includes temporary and covert units as well as regular forces, was made to establish the basis for an increase in troops -- possibly by around 4,000 -- under Trump's revised strategy to better support Afghan troops in the fight against the Taliban.