The Pentagon has been keeping troop figures in Afghanistan a secret since President Trump ordered the escalation over the summer. Officials have occasionally tipped off troop levels, however, and at times contradict one another.
Most recently, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie announced that the US had completed its surge into Afghanistan, saying they now have around 14,000 troops in the country. There are reasons to doubt this statement.
Most notably are other recent Pentagon statements, as just about a week before McKenzie made his 14,000 claim, officials said that a few hundred more troops would be deployed in early 2018, and when completed this would have around 16,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
On top of that, the “surge” has consistently been reported at 3,800 troops so far, and the last official figure from the Pentagon was 11,000 to 12,000 troops were in Afghanistan before the surge began, which suggests that if the 3,800 were added onto it, their overall toll would well exceed 14,000 at this point.
The reality though is all official figures are subject to change without notice, and lying to the American public about how many US troops are in Afghanistan is practically official policy at this point, so the lack of consistency is unsurprising.
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