Meanwhile, the additional forces that Crumpton and Berntsen were requesting were certainly available. There were around 2,000 U.S. troops in or near the Afghan theater at the time. At the U.S. airbase known as K2 in Uzbekistan were stationed some 1,000 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, whose specialty is fighting in harsh terrain. Hundreds of those soldiers had already deployed to Bagram Air Force Base, 40 miles north of Kabul. In addition, 1,200 Marines were stationed at Forward Operating Base Rhino, near Kandahar, from the last week of November onward. Brigadier General James Mattis, the commander of the Marines in the Afghan theater, reportedly asked to send his men into Tora Bora, but his request was turned down. In the end, there were more journalists—about 100, according to Nic Robertson of CNN and Susan Glasser of The Washington Post, who both covered the battle—in and around Tora Bora than there were Western soldiers.
Yet, when Crumpton called General Tommy Franks to ask for more troops, Franks pushed back. The general, who had overall control of the Tora Bora operation, pointed out that the light-footprint approach—U.S. reliance on local proxies—had already succeeded in overthrowing the Taliban, and he argued that it would take time to get more U.S. troops to Tora Bora.