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Pentagon Says Hurricane Relief Efforts Slow Afghanistan Deployments


U.S. President Donald Trump walks past hurricane wreckage as he participates in a walking tour in Puerto Rico on October 3.

The U.S. Defense Department says the military's response to the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico is delaying the deployment of forces to Afghanistan and other missions throughout the world.

Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the U.S. military's Joint Staff, told reporters on October 5 that the military had a "finite number" of transport aircraft that have been tied up with deliveries of aid and forces to the U.S. territory.

"That will inevitably slow movement to other theaters and [cause] the slight delay in the flow of forces to Afghanistan," McKenzie said.

The Pentagon has deployed around 11,000 active-duty and National Guard troops, together with around 80 helicopters and more than 100 trucks, to Puerto Rico.

The island was devastated when Hurricane Maria tore through it on September 20.

Washington is expected to deploy at least 3,500 additional troops to Afghanistan to help advise and train Afghan government forces. Around 11,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed there.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration recently unveiled a strategy to try to defeat militants in Afghanistan after nearly 16 years of war there.

Trump has made an open-ended commitment to the country, saying U.S. troop levels should be guided by "conditions on the ground," not "arbitrary timetables."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, VOA, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC
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