Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press – 2008-10-03 09:37:36
Brass: Afghanistan in Peril
Top US General Says More Troops Urgently Needed
WASHINGTON (October 2, 2008) — The top US military commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday that he needs more troops and other aid “as quickly as possible” in a counterinsurgency battle that could get worse before it gets better.
Gen. David McKiernan said it will take more than adding troops to stabilize Afghanistan—including efforts to strengthen the Afghan government, improve the economy and build its military and police forces.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters, the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan said there has been a significant increase in foreign fighters coming in from neighboring Pakistan this year, including Chechens, Uzbeks, Saudis and Europeans. And the general said he needs the more than 10,000 additional troops he has requested, in part, to increase his military campaigns in the south and east where violence has worsened.
“The additional military capabilities that have been asked for are needed as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that he is hoping to get units that will be able to both fight the insurgents and serve as trainers for the Afghan army and police.
McKiernan met with President George W. Bush later in the day. The president said that Afghanistan had made progress despite difficult fighting against determined killers.
“There’s been some tough fighting,” Bush said. “And we honor our American troops who have sacrificed so that Afghanistan never becomes a safe haven again for terrorists who would harm our citizens.”
Bush cited improved health care, education and transportation in Afghanistan, adding that “killers can’t stand this progress.”
He said the US must help ensure that Afghanistan has good governance, civilian programs and infrastructure.
The US already is committing more troops. Last month, Bush announced that a Marine battalion that had been scheduled to go to Iraq in November would go to Afghanistan instead, and an Army combat brigade would follow.
Currently there are 33,000 US troops in Afghanistan — 20,000 fighting insurgents and training the Afghan security forces and 13,000 with the NATO-led coalition._
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