3,500 more US troops headed to Afghanistan, officials say

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Washington, Sep 7 (PTI): The US will deploy additional 3,500 troops in Afghanistan, taking the total number of soldiers stationed in the war-torn country to 14,500, a defence official has said. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis authorised the new deployment which is in line with President Donald Trump’s Afghan policy, which did not set a timeline for the withdrawal US troops from the country, defence department official said on Wednesday.

Trump last month ruled out a hasty withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to end America’s longest war. Mattis has authorised about 3,500 additional troops to Afghanistan, the official said on condition of anonymity. Last week, the Pentagon had revised its earlier figure of 8,400 troops to about 11,000 troops.

On Friday, Mattis had told reporters that he had signed paper work for deployment of additional troops in Afghanistan but did not reveal the exact figures. The additional troops deployment come after Mattis, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, briefed members of the Congress on the new Afghan strategy and also about North Korea. They were joined by General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, and director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

“The US military presence in Afghanistan should be based on our national security interests, the advice of our commanders, and the facts on the ground. We must ensure that terrorists can never again use Afghanistan as a training ground and launching pad for terrorist attacks against our homeland,” Senator Todd Young said. “Afghanistan is not a short-term circumstance we face. Despite encouraging signs I saw, it doesn’t mean we are departing from Afghanistan soon,” Senator Jerry Moran was quoted as saying by Military Times.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday announced plans to hold a Congressional hearing on budget request for Afghanistan and Pakistan on September 13. Alice G Wells, acting assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, will testify before the Congressional Committee.

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