US Defense Secretary James Mattis announced Monday that America and several allies have committed to boosting their troop numbers in Afghanistan, following an address to the nation by the US president.
Senior White House officials said President Donald Trump has already authorized Mattis to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan.
“I have directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make preparations to carry out the president’s strategy,” Mattis said in a statement issued after Trump’s address on the 16-year conflict.
“I will be in consultation with the Secretary General of NATO and our allies — several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers,” Mattis said.
Trump already had given military leaders greater authority to manage America’s military efforts. But his new Afghan strategy had been held up for months amid a contentious review process that has included the president publicly voicing his dissatisfaction with the options.
In February, the top US commander in the country told Congress he needs “a few thousand” more troops. The Pentagon has asked for Trump’s approval of a nearly 4,000 troop increase as part of the broader new strategy.
The president finally outlined his plan Monday, signaling more US and NATO forces were coming, but gave no indication of the scale or how long they’d be deployed.
“We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities,” Trump said during his address. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.”
Preceding Mattis’s statements, Trump said the US would “ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will.”