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Extra 3,000 US soldiers deploy near Kabul

File image courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) Jan 27, 2009
Nearly 3,000 extra US soldiers have taken up position in strategic provinces near Kabul as part of a major boost in troops to Afghanistan this year, military officials said Tuesday.

The soldiers had been moving into Wardak and Logar provinces for about a month and were mostly in place, a US officer told AFP.

The troops from the 10th Mountain Division based in New York were originally slated to deploy to Iraq, but were diverted to Afghanistan in early September, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said separately.

"The brigade is the first substantial illustration of the new military focus in Afghanistan," it said.

The soldiers had started leaving their base in New York in mid-November, it said.

The deployment, which sees the number of troops in Wardak and Logar substantially increase from roughly 300-500 troops to around 3,000, had been on the table for months, ISAF media officer First Lieutenant Nathan Perry said.

Wardak and Logar have seen a marked increase in insurgent attacks over the past year and are considered launch pads for attacks on the Afghan capital.

Separate reinforcements of up to 30,000 US troops have been referred to by senior US officials but have yet to be given the final go-ahead, ISAF deputy commander Lieutenant General Jim Dutton told AFP recently.

Commanders expect additional deployments of "anything between 15-30,000 troops", including combat soldiers, in southern Afghanistan over the next 12 months, he said.

One of the first units expected to deploy in the widely expected surge is a combat aviation brigade, which would bring up to 120 helicopters, and will make an "enormous difference" to the area, he said.

Of the Brigade Combat Teams deployed to Wardak and Logar, Dutton said: "They have already moved in and are starting to take up position now."

In Washington, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that Afghanistan posed "the greatest military challenge" to the United States.

He said there have not been enough troops to provide security in the most dangerous parts of the country so the new administration of President Barack Obama was considering an increase in US forces there.

Gates said the Pentagon would probably be in a position to deploy three combat brigades to Afghanistan by mid-summer, but the deployment of a fourth would have to await the expansion of basing infrastructure there.

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Four Afghan nomads, two NATO soldiers killed
Kabul (AFP) Jan 27, 2009
Four Afghan nomads were killed Tuesday when a suspected insurgent bomb struck a vehicle, as two soldiers in the NATO-led military force died in the south of the country, officials said.

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