US admits troops are present in Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan
Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the Trump administration provided Congress on Monday with the report accounting for US military personnel stationed abroad.
The White House revealed that a “small number of United States military personnel” operate in Yemen against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group but did not specify the exact number.
The US is also known to provide logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels there.
In fact, Monday’s report concealed the exact number of US troops operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Cameroon, in a departure from past practice, most recently in June.
According to officials who spoke to Yahoo News, "the omissions reflect President Trump’s eagerness to keep secret the size of US deployments in some global hot spots under the theory that the numbers, no matter how vague, might give extremists and other enemies a strategic advantage".
Yahoo News however said some military, congressional and even some other administration officials privately dispute that notion and say some transparency is necessary for informed debate about America’s use of force.
It is unclear whether the administration detailed the figures to Congress in a classified addendum to the letter, Yahoo News' report added.
In Lebanon, which was omitted from previous reports to Congress, the White House disclosed that approximately 100 US troops are there at the government’s request "to shore up its counterterrorism capabilities."
In August, a US Pentagon spokesperson had revealed the presence of US special forces performing various tasks in Lebanon including advising in Beirut's effort against IS. Their presence in close proximity to Hizballah, which Washington designates as a terror group, at the time caused controversy in the region.
The report also said some 2,300 American military personnel are deployed in Jordan.
The report sent Monday also disclosed new or adjusted presence of US troops in Niger, the Philippines and Egypt.
Last week, a report said the US military has more than 44,000 troops across the globe that the Pentagon claims it cannot track, according to a recent report.
“We are not at a point where we can give numbers other than those officially stated,” said Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.
The report — compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center under the Office of the Secretary of Defense — shows more than 44,000 personnel in a category labeled “Unknown.”