Wire: Obama Quietly Deploying 13,000 More US Troops to Afghanistan
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that President Barack Obama is quietly deploying an extra 13,000 troops to Afghanistan, an unannounced move that is separate from a request by the U.S. commander in the country for even more reinforcements.
The UK's Guardian reported today that the extra 13,000 is part of a gradual shift in priority since Obama became president away from Iraq to Afghanistan.
The White House and the Pentagon both announced earlier this year that the number of US troops in Afghanistan was to be raised by 21,000, bringing the total at present to 62,000, with the aim of 68,000 by the end of the year.See link below for additional details.
But the Washington Post, based on conversations with Pentagon officials, said that on top of those an extra 13,000 "enablers" are also being deployed. They are mainly engineers, medical staff, intelligence officers and military police. About 3,000 of them are specialists in explosives, being sent to try to combat the growing fatality rate from roadside bombs.
The deployment of such non-combat troops is in line with the professed aim of the new US commander, General Stanley McChrystal, to try to win the hearts and minds of the Afghanistan population.
In addition to the deployments under way, McChrystal has also requested an extra 40,000 troops he says are necessary to prevent the country falling into the hands of the Taliban. That request has provoked an intense debate within Washington, with some political advisers in the White House opposed to any further escalation of a war that is already proving unpopular at home.
The Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, today expressed support for McChrystal's request. "I'm fully behind him for what he's seeking in this report," Karzai told ABC's Good Morning America.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: Obama quietly deploying 13,000 more US troops to Afghanistan