Gates Talks of Rapid Troop Increase in Afghanistan


ELISABETH BUMILLER
The New York Times
December 11, 2008

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here on Thursday that the Pentagon, which plans to send 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, was trying to get thousands of them into the country as soon as next spring, a sign of the seriousness of the threat by the Taliban.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The soldiers were requested by Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan. The first of them, about 3,500 to 4,000 troops from the Third Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., are scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan next month.

Mr. Gates said he hoped to deploy an additional two combat brigades by the spring as part of an effort to combat growing violence and chaos in the country. Pentagon officials have said it would take 12 to 18 months to get all 20,000 troops to Afghanistan. The United States currently has some 34,000 troops in the country.

Both Mr. Gates and General McKiernan also said Thursday that there would be a “sustained commitment” of American troops in Afghanistan for the next three or four years, although they declined to put a number on that commitment.

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