No decision has been taken on increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said today, amid speculation that Defence Secretary James Mattis may have finalised plans to dispatch 4,000 additional troops to the war-torn country.
"Secretary Mattis has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan. As he said throughout the week in testimony, the revised Afghanistan strategy will be presented to the President (Donald Trump) for his approval in the coming weeks," Pentagon spokesperson Dana W White said.
"The president has delegated force management authority for Afghanistan to the secretary. 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 inter-agency, the Afghan government, NATO allies and coalition partners," White said.
The White House said such an authorisation to Mattis is part of the broader plan.
"The president is simply giving the secretary of defence -- this is one piece of a broader cohesive plan for that region -- and he wants to give secretary Mattis the ability to manage the troops and the resources to do so," White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.
Yesterday, media reports claimed that Mattis was authorised by Trump to "manage" US troop levels in Afghanistan, paving the way for sending more American forces amidst a surge in Taliban attacks in the war-ravaged country.
It was reported that the US may send 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan where currently 8,400 American troops are stationed.
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