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Pentagon is accused of issuing misleading numbers of U.S. troops deployed to combat
Obama assigned Iraq and Syria force-management levels of 5,200 each. Recent reports conclude that there are really 7,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
By Laurel Kornfeld
Jan 15, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. troops are deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria in much greater numbers than the official reports indicate, defense analysts conclude. The White House and the Pentagon are both facing accusations of misstating the actual levels of U.S. military engagement in order to appear on paper to be adhering to the Obama administration's caps on troop levels in the three countries.

The Obama administration established a "force management level"a maximum number of troops allowed in the given area of operationsof 8,400 troops in Afghanistan. But actual personnel counts find around 12,000 U.S. troops in the country, and President Trump has hinted that he might send 4,000 more.

Obama assigned Iraq and Syria force-management levels of 5,200 each. Recent reports conclude that there are really 7,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The U.S. presence in Syria is smaller but is also underreported. Publicly released reports affirm 503 U.S. troopsalmost all of them special forcesto be operating there. But leaked information from sources confirms that there are hundreds more U.S. Marines and Army soldiers supporting them and that their presence is classified.
"We can deal with operational security, while still maintaining democratic accountability about how we fight wars," said Jason Dempsey, an Afghanistan veteran who is now a researcher at the Center for a New American Security. "Accurate troop level numbers are something the public absolutely deserves to know."
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently promised to review the policies behind personnel reports and to make sure that the numbers are more accurate. However, Trump asserted this week that his administration will not discuss troop numbers, which may make keeping that promise difficult.