Thousands More US Troops in Iraq, Syria Than Previously Admitted

Quarterly Report Reveals Officials Lied to Reporters

When the Pentagon talks numbers in Iraq and Syria, it’s always the same. There are 503 US troops in Syria, and 5,262 in Iraq. It doesn’t matter that thousands more troops were known to have been added since those figures were invented, they’re still “current” figures.

At least as current as the reporters ever get. The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), however, has to offer quarterly reports on US deployments overseas, and appears not to have the luxury of just fabricating numbers to suit the narrative.

Which quickly reveals what we already knew, that the Pentagon’s reported figures meant for the American public were flat out lies. In reality, there are 8,992 troops in Iraq and 1,720 in Syria, as of September,and the numbers have only risen since then.

Even this more accurate figure from the DMDC, in addition to being months out of date, is just the low end of the real figure, because buried at the bottom of the per-country deployments is another number, 29,092 US troops, whose locations are simply “unknown.”

That too seems like it should be more of a scandal than it is. The figure tacitly admits that some 10% of US troops deployed overseas are deployed so secretly that even the report responsible for accounting where they all are doesn’t have any idea where they might be.

Though such deception has been publicly endorsed by President Trump as official policy, lying about troop levels in Iraq and Syria predates his presidency, with an official “cap” negotiated with Iraq by the Obama Administration, long since violated, and officials keeping the official figure at the cap irrespective of how many more troops were deployed to avoid controversy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.