The Trump Administration is considering the deployment of more troops to Afghanistan, according to testimony Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the leader of US Central Command, told the panel that the Pentagon is developing a new strategy, and that it will likely include an uptick in soldiers serving in the 15-year-old conflict.
“I do believe that it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the ‘advise and assist’ mission more effective,” Votel told committee chair John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain had asked about supplementing troop levels, in light of recent territorial gains made by the Taliban.
“Advise and assist” refers to the nature of the current mission in Afghanistan. It was altered by former President Obama, at the end of 2014, to be focused on counter-terrorism and support for Afghan government forces.
There are about 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan. Obama had promised to pare back the American contingency to 5,500 soldiers, but changed his mind in July.
Votel said he was helping develop a new strategy in conjunction with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
In testimony last month, Nicholson told senators that the American contingency in Afghanistan was short of “a few thousand” troops.