21 Dec 2008

US to send more troops to Afghanistan by summer

7:05 am on 21 December 2008

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff says the United States intends send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan next year.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged a renewed focus on Afghanistan, where US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Washington is already sending some 3000 extra troops in January and another 2800 by spring.

Admiral Mike Mullen said on Saturday the increase will be between 20,000 - 30,000 and they will be in place by the beginning of the next (northern) summer.

The US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, has asked for the extra troops to halt a growing Taliban insurgency, particularly in the east and south of Afghanistan.

The United States already has some 31,000 troops in Afghanistan. Some are part of a 51,000-strong NATO security assistance force.