Thursday, April 2, 2009
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama faces a decision later this year whether to send an extra 10,000 US troops to Afghanistan, amid an escalating war against Islamist insurgents, defense officials said.
A top general and senior Pentagon official disclosed on Wednesday for the first time details of a pending request from the US commander in Afghanistan for yet more troops for a war that has already lasted more than seven years.
“What the president was told is that the request (for more troops) is out there, but he doesn’t have to make a decision until the fall so that the troops would arrive as planned in 2010,” Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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The US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, would “reassess” his request later in the year, she added.
General David Petraeus, the US Central Command chief, said he had approved the troop request but that the Defense Department had not yet formally passed it on to the White House.
Defense officials had previously said McKiernan requested about 30,000 additional troops and that recent decisions by Obama had met his requests for 2009.
The 38,000-strong US contingent in Afghanistan is due to expand to about 68,000 troops by the end of the year, Flournoy said. About 32,000 other foreign allied forces are also deployed there under NATO authority.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm