KABUL: The visiting U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that the exact number of additional U.S. troops to be deployed in Afghanistan was not still clear.
“Afghan security forces continue to take the lead but we are going to give them more advantages,” Mattis responded to a query when asked to comment on the number of U.S. troops expected to arrive in Afghanistan.
At the moment, according to media reports, there are 11,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Pentagon, reportedly would send some 3,500 additional forces to the militancy-battered country.
Mattis who attended a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, told reporters that he would not reveal the “exact number of additional troops to the enemy.”
Nevertheless, the Pentagon chief added that the Afghan security forces would take the lead in the fight against Taliban and other insurgents.
Talking to reporters at the press conference, Stoltenberg stated that NATO had welcomed the new United States’ Afghan approach, saying “I welcome that many nations have pledged further troop contribution and the U.S. conditions-based approach” to Afghanistan.
“Our presence together in Afghanistan reflects our continuing commitment to bringing stability and peace,” NATO chief said.
“The Taliban must understand that they cannot win on the battlefield and there is much more to gain around the negotiating table,” he asserted.
According to Stoltenberg, around 13,000-strong troops from 39 countries are currently serving in Afghanistan within the framework of NATO-led Resolute Support to help Afghan forces with training efforts, advising and backing them in the war on insurgents.
He said that NATO will provide 1 billion U.S. dollars to fund the Afghan forces year by year throughout 2020.