30,000 new US troops in Afghanistan by mid-2009
Tanweer | December 21, 2008 at 12:44 amby
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KABUL: The United States plans to send between 20,000 and 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan by next summer, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said here Saturday.
General David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan, has asked for more than 20,000 extra US soldiers to counter a rise in insurgent violence, seven years after US forces first invaded the country to oust the Taliban from power.
"The troops that were asked for in joint discussions with General McKiernan is what we're going to need for the foreseeable future. So I don't see an increase any higher at this point than 20 to 30,000," Mullen told reporters.
Mullen said he hoped the extra troops -- including four combat brigades, an aviation brigade and other support forces -- could be deployed by mid-2009.
"We're looking to get them here in the spring, but certainly by the beginning of summer at the latest," he said.
The build-up could nearly double the US military presence in Afghanistan, which currently stands at 31,000 soldiers.
Mullen said he could not give the "exact number" of troops that would be sent, but said 20,000-30,000 represented "the window of the overall increase where we are right now."
But he cautioned against thinking that a massive influx of US forces would automatically bring peace to the war-ravaged country.
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