• The Defense Department has released conflicting numbers about the number of US troops deployed overseas.
  • It has acknowledged the differences and promised to be more transparent about troop levels.
  • But comments by President Donald Trump and ongoing operations suggest that discrepancies will remain.

Recent data on troop levels in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria released by the Defense Department conflicts with official statements about the number of personnel in those countries, though officials have said there a number of reasons for those discrepancies.

According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, run by the Department of Defense, there were 25,910 US active-duty, national guard, or reserve military personnel in those three countries as of September 30. That is over 11,000 more than the 14,765 personnel that the Pentagon has said are deployed to the three countries.

The Defense Department has acknowledged that the DMDC numbers and official troop levels are often two different things, typically because troops on temporary assignments or on overlapping rotations, as well as some special-operations forces, have not been included in official Pentagon counts.


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