Ann Scott Tyson
Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2009
President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.
The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.
The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq “surge” that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said.
The deployment does not change the maximum number of service members expected to soon be in Afghanistan: 68,000, more than double the number there when Bush left office. Still, it suggests that a significant number of support troops, in addition to combat forces, would be needed to meet commanders’ demands. It also underscores the growing strain on U.S. ground troops, raising practical questions about how the Army and Marine Corps would meet a request from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
This article was posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 4:14 am