Wire: Newly Deployed US Troops Begin Ops Near Kabul
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2009 -- Close to 3,000 American soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul, have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday.
The new troops are the first wave of a what the mainstream media has already mis-characterized as a 'surge' of reinforcements expected this year.
The Pentagon has been contemplating sending up to 30,000 more soldiers to bolster the 33,000 already in Afghanistan, but the new Obama administration is expected to initially approve only a portion of that amount.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday the president would decide what to do about Afghanistan soon.
The new unit moved into Logar and Wardak provinces last month, and the soldiers from Fort Drum, N.Y., are now stationed in combat outposts throughout the provinces.
Militants have attacked several patrols with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, including one ambush by 30 insurgents, Lt. Col. Steve Osterhozer, the brigade spokesman, said.
Several roadside bombs also have exploded next to the unit's MRAPs — mine-resistance patrol vehicles — but caused no casualties, he said.
"In every case our vehicles returned with overwhelming fire," Ostehozer said. "We have not suffered anything more than a few bruises, while several insurgents have been killed."
Commanders are in the planning stages of larger scale operations expected to be launched in the coming weeks.
(Report from commercial media sources.)
Source: AP: Afghan surge begins in dangerous region near Kabul
Related: Head of Joint Chiefs: Afghanistan Troop Buildup Not a 'Surge'
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