/ 2 May 2008

US mulls thousands more troops for Afghan war

The Pentagon is considering sending up to 7 000 more United States troops to Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from Nato allies, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing unnamed Bush administration officials, the Times said the push could drive US forces in Afghanistan to about 40 000, the highest level since the United States invaded the country in 2001 and toppled the Taliban government. One official said it would likely result in ”the re-Americanisation” of the war.

The increase would drive US troops presence from about half to two-third of foreign troops in Afghanistan, and would require a reduction in troops levels in Iraq by at least a modest amount, the newspaper said. Planning for the increase began in recent weeks, it said.

”There are simply going to be more American forces than we’ve ever had there,” the Times quoted a senior official as saying.

Nato commanders in Afghanistan say they need about 10 000 more troops, but about dozen Nato countries have pledged only about 2 000, the paper said, citing unnamed Nato officials. So far only France has begun preparing more troops for deployment — about 700.

The officials also said the decision for more troops could be left to the next US president, who will take office in January, and that few additional troops were expected in Afghanistan any time soon. – Reuters