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U.S. troops and contractors in Afghanistan by year

President Trump will address the nation regarding his strategy in Afghanistan tonight. Here's how many U.S. troops and contractors were in the country through as of late-2016, and the 8 years prior, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service.

Data: Congressional Research Service; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Some takeaways from the report:

  • The latest available figures from Q4 of FY2016 show 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, down from about 100,000 in 2011.
  • Contractors have frequently made up over half of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan — in Q4 of FY2016, 72 percent of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan consisted of contractors.
  • About 3 percent of these contractors were armed private security contractors.
Dave Lawler 5 hours ago
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What Trump and Putin did and didn't discuss

President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin this afternoon, and congratulated him on winning re-election on Sunday. After the call, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether Trump felt the election had been free and fair, and said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to “dictate" how Russia holds elections.

The bottom line: Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.

Haley Britzky 1 hour ago
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A sixth explosion rattles Austin, unrelated to prior package bombings

Police and FBI Agents investigate at the Sunset Valley FedEx store in Austin, Texas, which is linked to the package bomb.
Police and FBI Agents investigate at the Sunset Valley FedEx store in Austin, Texas, which is linked to the package bomb. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP / Getty Images

Officials are responding to a sixth explosion in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday night, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The Austin Police Department said they don't believe it is connected to the previous explosions around the city.

The details: Per the Statesman, the explosion occurred at a Goodwill and one man is being treated for "potentially serious injuries." It is not clear at the moment whether this explosion is related to the latest package bombs.