The Pentagon has begun sending additional troops to Afghanistan to carry out President Donald Trump’s new war strategy, which will stick to his predecessor’s approach of supporting the Afghans’ fight against the Taliban rather than doing the fighting for them, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday.
“Yes, I’ve signed orders, but it’s not complete,” Mattis told reporters in an impromptu news conference at the Pentagon.
He would not say how many additional troops are deploying or what their exact roles will be. Trump’s decision to deepen the American military commitment was taken after months of debate within the administration over whether the risk was worth the potential reward of eventually stabilizing Afghanistan to the point where its own forces can prevent a Taliban takeover and contain other militant threats. Mattis stressed that Afghan forces will remain in the lead, with the extra U.S. troops taking a support role.