There are several thousand more American troops serving in Afghanistan, on average, than the Pentagon officially acknowledges, three U.S. defense officials told NBC News.
The official Pentagon count puts 8,400 troops on the ground in Afghanistan — the maximum number of service members authorized to be there is 8,448 — but the officials said that the number actually hovers between 11,000 and 12,000.
That's because of people in-country on temporary duty shorter than 120 days and overlap between units as service members transition in and out.
President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan strategy involves expanded authority for American armed forces to operate in the nation, but neither he nor Defense Secretary James Mattis have said how many additional troops will be sent there. Pentagon plans from June called for 3,900 more troops to go to Afghanistan, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.