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US looking at Afghan troop surge.

Byline: Lalit K. Jha

US looking at Afghan troop surge

Lalit K Jha - Aug 1, 2008 - 13:16

WASHINGTON (PAN): Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen Thursday confirmed the United States was seriously looking at sending more troops to Afghanistan. However, they did not put a figure on the number of the additional troops for the war-torn South Asian country.

"We need to continue looking at that," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. "We're looking at how we backfill behind the Marines with forces that are already there, additional forces that other countries have committed to send," the secretary said.

"We'll just have to wait and see what General Petraeus' recommendations are before we can make that judgment," Gates said while referring to a report being prepared by the top US general. The issue is being looked into by Central Command commander in terms of what the US might do with regard to additional forces for Afghanistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Mullen said: "We clearly are looking at an Afghanistan where results are mixed. The challenges are certainly significant. And we'd like to get additional troops there as soon as we could."

Of his recent trip to Pakistan, the admiral said: "There is recognition that there is a serious problem in the FATA; that it is a threat not just to our troops in Afghanistan, it's a serious threat to Pakistan, and it's growing."

The Pentagon leaders officially called "the long war" against extremism as its top priority and pledged to avert any conventional military threat from China or Russia through dialogue. In a new national defence strategy, the Defence Department stressed the need to subordinate military operations to "soft power" initiatives to weaken militancy by promoting economic, political and social development in vulnerable corners of the world.

Robert Gates hoped the change would help establish permanent institutional support for counterinsurgency skills acquired in Iraq and Afghanistan within a defence community heavily skewed in favour of expensive conventional and strategic modernisation programs.

I firmly believe that in the years ahead, our military is much more likely to engage in asymmetric conflict than conventional conflict against a rising state power, he said. We must be ready for both kinds of conflict and fund the capabilities to do both.

Pelosi backs troop surge: House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported the move to increase American troops in Afghanistan, a demand being made for quite some time now by the American military leadership to win the war on terror in the country.

"The real war on terror is in Afghanistan. We need more resources there from the day we left our full attention in Afghanistan and moved on to Iraq," Pelosi told a separate press conference. "I do think that it is essential that we win that war in Afghanistan."

She added: "We're understaffed there, not only in military -- our military presence, but also in terms of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. So the benefits of a democratic government are more clearly presented to the people of Afghanistan.

"So whether it's the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce building infrastructure of Afghanistan, they have to see some tangible results in terms of the democracy that we want to flourish there," she argued.


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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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