Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a Trump White House official told the Associated Press that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has decided to deploy approximately 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan, according to a report published on Thursday evening.
The news comes just one day after Defense Secretary Mattis told a Senate panel that President Donald Trump's decision to give Mattis the ability to set U.S. troop commitment level in Afghanistan without requiring him to seek Trump's approval first would not result in any immediate changes to the number of troops in Afghanistan.
The announcement could be made to the public "as early as next week," according to the AP.
According to the official, most of the 4,000 troops will "train and advise Afghan forces" while the others will assist in the efforts to fight ISIS and the Taliban.
Trump's decision to rupture from White House precedent by allowing his defense secretary to set the troop levels in Afghanistan himself was cause for concern for at least one former ranking DoD official.
“To just say to Jim Mattis, ‘Do whatever you think is best,’ and for Secretary Mattis to be able to add 30,000 troops, for example, without having to get the president to approve that, strikes me as unhealthy,” Christine Wormuth, an Obama-era Pentagon policy official, said to the AP, “It certainly could be interpreted as the president kind of distancing himself from these profound decisions and specifically from what we’re doing in Afghanistan.”
NATO officially ended its military operations in Afghanistan in December 2014. A United States military presence has persisted in the country ever since.