The U.S. Army will deploy about 500 soldiers to Afghanistan for an assignment of up to nine months who will also serve as advisors to Afghan national security forces.
According to information released by the Army on Friday, the soldiers will be deployed later this winter to join the 10th Mountain Division at Bagram Airfield after completing a mission rehearsal exercise this month at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
“Our nation’s Army continues to call upon Mountain soldiers to serve around the
world in places like Afghanistan due to their proven record of high standards, mission success and selfless service,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, in a statement.
This comes after the NATO and U.S. military commander in Afghanistan General John F. Campbell said that due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan he seeks to keep as many U.S. troops in Afghanistan as possible through 2016.
In a telephonic interview with USA TODAY from Kabul, Gen. John Campbell said that maintaining the current force of 9,800 U.S. troops to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorism raids is vital, and that the scheduled reduction to 5,500 by Jan. 1, 2017, should be put off as long as possible.
“My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could,” he said. “At some point it becomes physics. I’m going to have to get them out.”
“My job as commander on the ground is to continually make assessments,” Gen. Campbell added. “Every time I’ve gone to the president and said, ‘I need X,’ I’ve been very, very fortunate that he’s provided that. So he’s been very flexible. It’s actually been conditions based as we’ve gone forward.
“If I don’t believe that we can accomplish the train, advise and assist and the (counter-terrorism) missions, then I owe it to the senior leadership to come back and say, ‘Here’s what I need.’ If that’s more people, it’s more people.”
This comes as the Pentagon’s quarterly assessment of security in Afghanistan this month noted that in “the second half of 2015, the overall security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated with an increase in effective insurgent attacks and higher (Afghan security force) and Taliban casualties.”