Gates: More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan Next Year

Gates: More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan Next Year
April 5th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Gates: More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan Next Year

Gates: More U.S. Troops To Afghanistan Next Year
April 4, 2008
Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN), 7:00 PM
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Robert Gates today said the U.S. will send substantial reinforcements to Afghanistan next year. Now Gates said those extra troops will go to Afghanistan regardless of the progress in the war in Iraq, but it appears there are no extra U.S. troops available for Afghanistan this year.
Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR: At the end of the NATO summit in Bucharest, President Bush committed a new round of U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan. According to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Mr. Bush told other heads of state that in 2009, the United States would make a significant, additional contribution of forces to fight the Taliban. U.S. commanders want another 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, so why not send them now to join the 31,000 U.S. troops already there -- the answer, Iraq.
ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: There are force requirements there that we can't currently meet, so having forces in Iraq don't -- at the level they're at don't allow us to fill the need that we have in Afghanistan.
STARR: Finding enough troops for Afghanistan and Iraq is proving to be increasingly difficult. A new classified national intelligence estimate on Iraq, which Congress requested before General David Petraeus testifies next Tuesday is now on Capitol Hill. It reportedly says the surge is working, but analysts say the recent fighting in Basra may have changed everything.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I would say that any report done before Basra is already obsolete, at least to an extent. And so in that regard it's not going to be a definitive word anyway.
STARR: The latest fighting in Basra could temper Petraeus' view that the surge has worked. The U.S. now has more than 500 troops in the south helping Iraqi security forces, but U.S. officials note 1,000 Iraqi troops deserted their post during the fighting.
In September the first post surge brigade is due to come home. Petraeus has to decide within the next several weeks if he still wants replacement troops or if he is going to begin a new draw down. (END VIDEOTAPE)
STARR: The need for more troops in Afghanistan is going to put pressure on the administration to begin a further troop draw down in Iraq because after all, Kitty, there really are only so many boots you can put on the ground in either country.
PILGRIM: Well that's exactly right, Barbara, so where in the world is the Pentagon going to find all these extra troops to fight in Afghanistan next year?
STARR: That's going to be a fairly significant problem for a couple of reasons. First, when troops come home from Iraq, the Pentagon has made an absolute pledge to give them at least 12 months with their families to rest and recuperate before they go off to a war zone again. So that's going to put some pressure on it.
Iraq is not exactly getting better anytime soon as we've seen with the fighting in Basra. And finally what Admiral Mullen said was absolutely vital. Look at it this way. They need the troops in Afghanistan now; they're not sending them until next year because they don't have them to send.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Barbara Starr. Thanks Barbara.
Fox Special Report With Brit Hume, 6:00 PM
BRET BAIER, FNC ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed that the U.S. intends to send many more combat forces to Afghanistan next year, regardless of whether troop levels in Iraq are cut further this year. His remarks come on the heels of a promise President Bush made at the NATO Summit. National security correspondent Jennifer Griffin is standing by at the Pentagon with more. Hi, Jennifer.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: Hi, Bret. Well, Secretary Gates told reporters on his plane as he left the NATO Summit that the U.S. would be sending more troops to Afghanistan next year, effectively committing the next U.S. president, no matter who it is, Democrat or Republican, to increasing troop levels there. Gates said he suggested the president announce the commitment at the summit. "I think that no matter who is elected president, they would want to be successful in Afghanistan. So I think this was a very safe thing for him to say."
The candidates have not said whether they see it that way; 3,500 U.S. Marines just arrived in Afghanistan and will be there through the fall. But the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says he is still short 3,000 police trainers and would like an additional two combat brigades or 7,000 troops to surge into the south, where Taliban fighting is expected to be tough as this spring. Still, he won't get those troops this year.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told Pentagon reporters the U.S. cannot send more troops to Afghanistan before the end of this year if the troop levels in Iraq do not come down. And General Petraeus is expected to recommend a pause in further withdrawals from Iraq when he testifies to Congress next week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADM. MIKE MULLEN, CJCS: Afghanistan is an economy of force campaign, and there are force requirements there that we can't currently meet. So having forces in Iraq don't, at the level they're at, don't allow us to fill the need that we have in Afghanistan. (END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Defense officials are effectively saying that, when and if troop levels come down from Iraq, they, in effect, will be sent and committed out to Afghanistan. Secretary Gates also indicated that there could be an announcement very soon that army troop tours could go down from 15 months to 12-month tours, and that announcement could be made very soon -- Bret.
BAIER: Welcome news for those army families. Jennifer, thanks.

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