Gates announces Afghanistan troop increase only months before drawdown(Read article summary)
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan to protect gains as fighting increases with the spring snow melt.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo
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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.