Armed Forces International News - January 2008

Gates Considers Additional US Troops for Afghanistan

Posted by Paul Fiddian on 10/01/2008 - 18:07:24

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Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary, is contemplating plans to provide additional troop support to Afghanistan. Under the proposals, 3,000 Marines servicemen would be supplied to the area to strengthen the NATO troop deployment in the south of the country, pending an anticipated Taliban assault.

26,000 US Troops Fighting in Afghanistan

Presently, around 26,000 US soldiers are serving in Afghanistan, of which about 50 per cent are part of the International Security Assistance Force, which is led by NATO.

According to Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for the Pentagon, the plan will be presented to Mr Gates on the 11th January. A decision is not considered imminent.

7,500 More US Troops Needed, Say Commanders

For some time now, commanders of US forces in Afghanistan have stressed the need for 7,500 more troops to combat the Taliban. Mr Gates has urged NATO to supply these extra reinforcements, but to no avail.

"The commanders need more forces there”, said Mr Morrell. “Our allies are not in the position to provide them. So we are now looking at perhaps carrying a bit of that additional load."

Taliban Assault Expected in Spring 2008

The basis of the directive, he described, was to get the extra soldiers stationed in Afghanistan to stall a Taliban attack after the current wintery conditions have disappeared.

"The timing is that they would be in place by April, for a one-time seven month deployment", he detailed.

The force being contemplated would potentially feature a 2,200-strong marine air-ground task force, alongside a marine battalion to assist with the provision of training to Afghan security forces.

Source – Armed Forces International’s US Correspondent

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