The U.S. has a total of 26,000 troops spread across Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon data, which is far higher than previously admitted.
The U.S. now says there are 8,892 U.S. troops in Iraq, 15,298 in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, based on information from the Defense Manpower Data Center. The information is current as of Sept. 30, but was released publicly earlier in November.
Notably, the actual numbers are likely higher than these new figures presented, as special operations troops are usually not counted in the total.
In terms of previously admitted figures, the differences are stark. The Pentagon in the past only admitted to 503 troops in Syria, but Defense Manpower indicates that the number is 1,720, in addition to three civilians.
In Iraq, the previous number was 6,812, but the new number is 8,892.
The data release is likely part of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ promise to be more up front about troops levels and has admitted past levels were due to a “very strange accounting procedure.”
Back in August, Dana White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, told the Washington Examiner that “Secretary Mattis is committed to developing a more transparent accounting of our troops in the field than he inherited.” This particular pledge came following President Donald Trump’s announcement of a new troop surge in Afghanistan in August.
In the past, the Pentagon has only released what it terms the “force management level,” which is an authorized cap on troop numbers, but that level does not include any short-term deployments. It also does not cover rotational overlaps.
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