2,000 Marines face longer Afghan tour
In a further sign that the war in Iraq is draining resources from the conflict in Afghanistan, the pentagon has announced that troops serving there will need to remain longer than their 7-month tour of duty.
At the same time, Barack Obama's presidential campaign has seized on comments by the nation's top military officer that admitted that the Iraq conflict has been draining resources from Afghanistan..
In a decision reflecting the shortage of available combat troops, more than 2,000 Marines fighting the Taliban will be kept in Afghanistan 30 days beyond their original seven-month tour, the Marine Corps said yesterday.
The decision by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to extend the Marines' tour was confirmed a day after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that more troops are needed in Afghanistan but that he didn't have more troops to send.
Gates had said several times in recent months that he had "no plans" to extend the Marines' tour. But U.S. officials, including Mullen, have said recently that the situation in Afghanistan is worsening and that the Taliban-led insurgency is gaining ground and influence.
At present there are 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, of which 14,000 are assigned to work under the International Security Assistance Force, the 40-nation coalition led by U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan.