The Cipher Take

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Headline: U.S. Troops Climb to 14,000 in Afghanistan Under Trump

According to new estimates provided by the Pentagon, the U.S. now has approximately 14,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, up from the 11,000 reported by the Pentagon earlier this fall. The growing number of troops reflects President Donald Trump’s new strategy in Afghanistan, which he outlined in a speech in mid-August. Trump had said that he was scrapping a timeline approach and aiming to provide U.S. troops on the ground with all of the tools necessary to battle the Taliban and defeat al Qaeda and ISIS.

The Cipher Take:

Trump’s August remarks did not address U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but the current number of 14,000 is a noteworthy increase from the approximately 11,000 troops that had been deployed in Afghanistan towards the end of the summer. According to a new strategy recently outlined by the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, John Nicholson, the number of NATO troops in Afghanistan will also increase bringing the total number of forces to 16,000. Both U.S. and Afghan security forces face constant threats from Taliban-perpetrated violence, which has become a near-everyday occurrence in Afghanistan, as well as from ISIS attacks in the country. The Taliban currently controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, while Afghan Security Forces are now believed to be in control of less than 60 percent of the country. The U.S. continues to face a daunting task in Afghanistan and experts, including retired General Michael Hayden, have asserted that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan should be to ensure that “it doesn’t become something we can’t live with.”

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