At Least 30,000 U.S. Troops Still Stuck Overseas Despite Biden’s Promise

( The Biden administration has sought to end what have become labeled as “forever wars,” conflicts the United States has been involved in that have lasted more than 20 years.

One such recent example is the war in Afghanistan, which lasted 20 years until the United States started withdrawing troops under former President Donald Trump. Current President Joe Biden continued that withdrawal in August — in a hasty, unprepared and messy way, of course.

But, despite wanting to remove all American troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. still has more than 30,000 active troops in the Middle East and surrounding regions.

This number is the lowest mark for any one year for any president in the 21st century. At the same time, though, many analysts find it very difficult to fully ascertain what the true presence of the U.S. military is in the region.

They say this makes it very challenging to understand exactly what the president’s desire is in terms of diverting from the way his predecessors handled open-ended conflicts in the Middle East and surrounding areas.

A spokesperson for the Central Command provided those numbers to Newsweek recently. CENTCOM oversees all military operations for the United States for all of the Middle East. Some areas of exception for CENTCOM include Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

As the spokesperson commented:

“Currently, there are more than 30,000 troops deployed across the CENTCOM AOR (area of responsibility). Due to concerns related to operational security and force protection, we do not comment on the disposition of U.S. forces.”

In other words, CENTCOM wouldn’t give a full breakdown of where those 30,000 troops are stationed.

The Pentagon began to restrict sharing of troop counts under Trump. Biden promised to increase transparency in this regard, but the Pentagon hasn’t begun to alter its approach just yet.

The most recent annual budget from the Pentagon does give some clarity on this, though. In fiscal year 2020, the average annual troop strength in Afghanistan was 16,025. Roughly 8,600 troops were requested for fiscal year 2021, while that dropped down to zero for fiscal year 2022.

Average troop strength in Syria and Iraq was at 5,487 for 2020. The request for troops in 2021 increased to 8,003, before dropping down to a requested 3,400 troops for 2022.

Newsweek asked the CENTCOM spokesperson to comment on the figures, and they confirmed them. They also added:

“There is no U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Our mission in Afghanistan ended in August 2021. As previously acknowledged, U.S. troop numbers for Iraq and Syria are approximately 2,500/900, respectively.”

Most of the troops that are stationed in these regions aren’t involved in active wars. Instead, they provide support for ongoing engagements that happen in the region.

If a conflict were to erupt, these troops would be the ones to respond first, since they are already in the region.