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Gates announces Afghanistan troop increase only months before drawdown

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Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

(Read caption) US Army Pfc. Steven Miner of Colorado, second left, form First Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division plays with an Afghan boy as troops rest at a checkpoint in Panjwai district, Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Nov. 30, 2010.

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

The US will send an additional 1,400 Marines to Afghanistan in anticipation of intensified fighting in the spring as winter snow melts and fighters return form havens in Pakistan. The unexpected announcement came as the British defense secretary said that anticipated British troop pullouts this year were not a guarantee.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided to send the additional troops, which will deploy to Afghanistan as early as this month, according to The Wall Street Journal. Nearly all of the proposed troops will be frontline infantry in the country’s south, near Kandahar, where foreign troops have focused their efforts recently.

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan is under pressure to show security gains before White House-mandated troop reductions begin in July. According to Reuters, the Taliban are at their strongest since they were ousted from power, although operations against the insurgency have intensified since 2008.

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