Tuesday, Sept 9, 2008
President George W Bush is preparing to bolster US troop numbers in Afghanistan using forces freed up from Iraq.
The US will withdraw about 8,000 of its 146,000 soldiers in Iraq by February – and send 4,500 more to join the 33,000 in Afghanistan.
Mr Bush is expected to say in a speech to the US National Defence University that the improved security situation in Iraq will permit a “quiet surge” of troops in Afghanistan in the coming months.
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“While the progress in Iraq is still fragile and reversible … there now appears to be a ‘degree of durability’ to the gains we have made,” Mr Bush will say.
However he will state that efforts in Afghanistan must now be ramped up.
“For all the good work we have done in that country, it is clear we must do even more. Unlike Iraq, it has few natural resources and has an underdeveloped infrastructure. Its democratic institutions are fragile,” Mr Bush will explain.
He will make clear that longer-term decisions about the deployments will be left to General David Petraeus, soon to become the Commander of US Central Command, and Mr Bush’s successor as president, who will take office in January.
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm