Home / World News / Up to 1,000 more U.S. troops could be headed to Afghanistan this spring – The Denver Post

Up to 1,000 more U.S. troops could be headed to Afghanistan this spring – The Denver Post

The U.S. Army is readying plans that could increase the total force in Afghanistan by as many as 1,000 U.S. troops this spring beyond the 14,000 already in the country, senior military officials said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not signed off on the proposals for the new forces, which are part of a broader strategy to bolster Afghan forces so that they can pound the Taliban during the upcoming fighting season.

The possible increases have the support of the Army’s senior leadership, which has been working to determine the mix of troops required to execute a strategy centered on a new combat formation.

The discussions at the Pentagon underscore the complex task the U.S. military faces as it prepares to deploy newly created combat advisory teams to some of the most violent, remote and heavily contested areas of Afghanistan.

The Obama administration, as part of its plan to wind down the Afghanistan war in 2015, limited advisers to higher headquarters far from the fighting. The new strategy that President Donald Trump approved in August would push U.S. advisory teams to the battalion level, far closer to the front lines.

“This is a concept that got accelerated for Afghanistan, and it has been quite a process,” a senior military official said of the plan to send the U.S. Army’s first-ever Security Force Assistance Brigade to Afghanistan early this spring. “It has been a roller coaster.” The official, who is involved in the troop planning, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military planning.

Military officials said that some troops, particularly at the headquarters level, might come out of Afghanistan as new forces move into the theater and that they expect the total force this spring to be about 15,000 troops.

Trump’s plan for the war increased the number of troops from 8,500 when he took office to about 14,000 today. The president also lifted restrictions on U.S. warplanes, triggering a major spike this winter in airstrikes aimed at Taliban formations and its leadership.

A spokesman for Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said U.S. Forces Afghanistan had not specifically asked for an increase in troop levels, suggesting the increase, if approved, would be considered an adjustment under the current plan rather than an increase associated with a shift in strategy.

The White House might want to weigh in on any plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials.

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