Pentagon deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan

PHOTO: This June 10, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Marine Corpsshows an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. Soldiers with Task Force Iron at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan. PlayU.S. Marine Corps via AP
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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not decided yet whether to fulfill a request by some of his military commanders to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

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"Secretary Mattis has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan," said Dana White the Pentagon's chief spokesperson.

"As he said throughout the week in [congressional] testimony, the revised Afghanistan strategy will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks," White said.

The Pentagon statement came in response to an Associated Press report that indicated Mattis decided to send about 4,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan which would be announced as early as next week.

The U.S. currently has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan training and advising the Afghan military in the fight against the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.

"The president has delegated force management authority for Afghanistan to the secretary," said White. "The secretary will continue to follow the president's guidance on our overall strategy. Any decisions about troop numbers will be made only after consultation with the interagency, the Afghan government, NATO allies and coalition partners."

White was referring to President Trump’s granting Mattis authority on Tuesday to set troop levels in Afghanistan, matching a similar responsibility the defense chief was given in April for troop levels in Iraq and Syria.

Mattis told a congressional committee on Thursday that he will manage troop levels in Afghanistan under the strategic guidance of President Trump.

The Pentagon is mulling sending between 2,000 to 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, according to a military official.

In February, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, told Congress that he would like additional U.S. troops to make up a shortfall in trainers of the Afghan military.

A U.S. official on Friday said the Pentagon is weighing sending additional troops who could provide specific logistical and intelligence support to the Afghan military.

Mattis also told a congressional committee this week that he would like to ensure that the Afghan military has access to more coalition air power.