WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is proposing to counter the resilient Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan by adding thousands more U.S. troops, putting them closer to combat and pounding militants with more airstrikes, according to a senior Defense official.
There are about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from the peak of 100,000 in 2010-’11. The request for at least 3,000 more American combat forces to bolster battered Afghan security forces was signaled earlier this year when the top U.S. commander there, Army Gen. John Nicholson, told the Senate the security situation had deteriorated.
The military’s proposal, which requires White House approval, would allow U.S. troops to partner with Afghan forces closer to the fight, said the Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan. U.S. troops in Afghanistan have dual responsibilities: advising Afghan security forces and a counter-terrorism mission against al Qaeda and Islamic State terrorists.