Pentagon Has Nearly 2,000 Troops in Syria According to Recent Statistics

In this Sept. 8, 2016 photo, a U.S. Army soldier guards a position at Camp Swift, northern
AP Photo/Susannah George

There are nearly 2,000 U.S. active and reserve troops in Syria, according to the most recent Pentagon statistics. That is about four times the amount that was allowed to be publicized by the accounting system implemented by the Obama administration.

As of September 30, there were 1,720 U.S. active and reserve troops in Syria, according to statistics compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center and published online last Friday.

The Obama administration had put into place an accounting system known as a “force management level” for both Iraq and Syria, which effectively put troop caps on the number of forces that could deploy there on a “full-time basis.”

However, the U.S. military got around those troop caps by deploying forces on a “short-term basis,” and the actual number of U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria was grossly underreported.

The force management level last set by the Obama administration for Iraq was 5,262, and for Syria was 503, although it was widely reported that the number of U.S. forces on the ground in both places was hundreds more.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, at the beginning of his tenure, promised to bring more transparency to the way troops were being counted.

This year, the Pentagon announced there were about 2,500 more U.S. forces in Afghanistan than was publicized under the previous system.

The Pentagon has since been working on figures for Iraq and Syria but have not yet announced them publicly.

According to the statistics released last week, there are 8,892 active and reserve troops in Iraq, despite the force management level being officially 5,262. That brings the total of U.S. forces at that point in September to nearly 11,000.

It is not yet clear whether these latest statistics were affected by recent efforts to bring transparency to actual troop counts.

President Trump in April gave Mattis the authority to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria, but it is not clear whether he has used the authority yet to increase the number beyond what was already there.


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