The Pentagon is eager to get a handle on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan by deploying more U.S. service personnel. Apparently, U.S. President Donald Trump's advisers have called for additional troops to be sent to the South Asian hotspot in order to prop up the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in their fight against the Taliban insurgency.
The recommendation by the Department of Defense and the State Department allegedly calls for 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops, but has yet to been signed off by President Trump, according to media reports. The top commander of the U.S. forces currently in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, gave similar advice to Congress in February, to avert a deepening stalemate.
As the below infographic shows, the United States, which lead throughout the combat mission "Enduring Freedom" and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has pulled out most its troops since the end of ISAF in late 2014. Whereas the number of personnel stood at more than a 100,000 in September 2011, troop levels have dropped to roughly 13,000 for the last two years, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.
This includes all active duty service personnel from all branches (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force), National Guard and Reserve, but also civilian employees of the Department of Defense and civilian contractors (APF) – which make up the smallest group.
The U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan is America's longest war. The current NATO-led operation in Afghanistan is called "Resolute Support" and aims to train and advise the Afghan security forces. Sporadic combat operations are left to special forces. This could change if the additional U.S. troops are deployed.
Any decisions on troop levels are expected to be made on May 25 latest, when NATO leaders get together in Brussels.
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