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Here are two examples from the Longman dictionary. I see no grammatical differences between them, and yet there are different articles. Why?

He strengthened [nothing] US forces in the Gulf.

a plan to disarm the rebel forces

(from here)

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Without the inclusion of any supporting text for what amount to clipped phrases, "the" appears to be redundant in both and, therefore, optional so has been omitted in the first and included in the second. Removing it makes no difference.

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