WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2017 —
A change in accounting for force management levels in Afghanistan allows U.S. officials to be more transparent in how many service members are in Afghanistan: There are 11,000, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Joint Staff, said today.
In a briefing for Pentagon reporters, White and McKenzie emphasized that this is not an increase in personnel assigned to the country and that the number does not include any new troops that may go to Afghanistan to implement President Donald J. Trump’s new South Asia strategy announced last week.
Previously, Defense Department officials maintained that about 8,400 American service members were in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed the department to revise how it accounts for deployed personnel carrying out major operations in Afghanistan.
Commitment to Transparency
“The secretary has been clear about his commitment to transparency in our public reporting procedures and increasing commanders’ ability to adapt to battlefield conditions and countering emergent threats,” White said. “Following a comprehensive review of our South Asia strategy, the secretary has determined we must simplify our accounting methodology and improve the public’s understanding of America’s military commitment in Afghanistan.”
DoD’s previous force management practice disclosed only forces under the force management level, not forces on temporary missions. “While this procedure supported operational security, it also reduced unit readiness and transparency,” White said. “Often, commanders were compelled to reduce the size of deployed units in order to meet theater force management levels and limit the time that units could remain in operational theaters.
“This way of doing business is over,” she added.
The new force management process allows openness and transparency with the…