In his Monday speech on escalating the Afghan War, President Trump declined to announce how many troops he intends to send to the country. This follows a trend of keeping the official number of US troops in Iraq and Syria secret.
US defense officials, however, are admitting that the US already has thousands more troops in Afghanistan than the last official Pentagon figure would suggest. As of Trump’s speech, 8,448 US ground troops were in Afghanistan.
Officials say they’re not sure the exact number at the time of the speech, but that it was somewhere closer to 11,000 or 12,000 troops. While the US often officially undercounts their deployment in countries with a negotiated “cap” on troop figures, there is no such cap in Afghanistan, making it unclear why they were offering misleading figures.
Trump’s announced escalation obviates this problem going forward, as the official stance of the Pentagon will be not to give the American public accurate troop figures to begin with, meaning they’ll no longer have to go to the trouble of lying to us.