Defense Secretary James Mattis has said he wants the Defense Department to provide an account of the total number of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan before the agency fields additional service personnel to the South Asian country, Defense News reported Tuesday.
“The first thing I have to do is ‘level the bubble,’ and account for everybody that is on the ground there now, the idea being that we’re not going to have different pockets that we are accounting for,” said Mattis, an inductee into Executive Mosaic‘s Wash100 for 2017.
“I’ll tell you what the total number is, and there is a number that I am authorized to go up to.”
The White House authorized Mattis in June to establish troop levels for Afghanistan but capped the total number of additional ground forces to be deployed at 3,900.
His remarks came a day after President Donald Trump unveiled a conditions-based strategy for South Asia that aims to advance use of military power, economic capability and diplomacy to ensure U.S. security and safety of allies.
Mattis told reporters Tuesday in Iraq that he has asked Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to draft a plan on how to carry out the president’s South Asian strategy, the report added.