The Pentagon announced Wednesday that a combat brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., will deploy to Afghanistan late this year as part of the next rotation of forces.

The deployment, to include the 82nd Airborne headquarters staff and various unidentified support units, will total about 11,000 soldiers, the Pentagon said. The announcement gave no indication that this would represent either an increase or a decrease in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, which currently stand at about 22,000.

At a Pentagon news conference, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that based on his visit last week to Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan he is optimistic about progress in Afghanistan.

CountryWatch: Afghanistan

Regarding troops levels, Pace said, "The U.S. contribution has stayed stable and will remain stable."

Late last year the Pentagon said U.S. troop levels would be reduced by 3,000 this year, but that has not happened, mainly because the Taliban armed resistance has stepped up its attacks, particular in the volatile southern areas.