- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The U.S.’s top military officer is huddling with top NATO commanders this week to discuss the way forward for the war in Afghanistan.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. arrived at the alliance’s headquarters Tuesday and will spend the next few days assessing the U.S. and NATO military footprint in Afghanistan, and the coalition’s ongoing operations in the country.

Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, will also attend this week’s NATO ministerial, providing his assessment of the war, which is heading into its 16th year.

Gen. Nicholson, along with U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel, have called for an increase of U.S. troops into Afghanistan, ahead of this year’s fighting season in country. President Trump has also reportedly handed authority to determine U.S. troop increases into Afghanistan and elsewhere to Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Pentagon and White House officials are reportedly weighing a troop increase of between 3,000 to 5,000 additional American troops. With NATO members expected to match that increase, as many as 10,000 new coalition forces could be heading into Afghanistan.

Roughly 9,000 U.S. service members are deployed in Afghanistan, conducting training and advising operations with the Afghan National Security Forces under Operation Resolute Support. A smaller number of U.S. special operations units are also executing counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and a resurgent Islamic State as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.



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