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US military chief wants three more brigades to fight Taliban

The United States deployed 3,500 marines this spring and several NATO countries have pledged to send more troops.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2008
The chief of the US military, Admiral Michael Mullen, said Monday he needed three more brigades in Afghanistan to battle Taliban fighters and train Afghan forces.

"We are short of forces there," Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a meeting of military officers.

"I need at least an additional three brigades, one of them a training brigade," Mullen said. A brigade is about 3,500 soldiers.

The United States has urged NATO allies for months to deploy reinforcements to the strife-torn nation, where 70,000 soldiers are fighting under separate US and NATO commands.

"Violence is up this year by every single measure," Mullen said.

The month of June is already the bloodiest of the year for international forces with 32 soldiers killed so far.

The United States deployed 3,500 marines this spring and several NATO countries have pledged to send more troops.

Mullen said he hoped the United States could reduce its troop presence in Iraq in the fall, "which will allow me to get more forces into the fight in Afghanistan."

A German general, Egon Ramms, told German radio on Sunday that NATO needed up to 6,000 more soldiers to stabilize Afghanistan.

Ramms warned that the situation would only worsen later this year when US forces withdraw some of their troops from Afghanistan.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has 53,000 soldiers from 40 nations, up from 33,000 troops 18 months ago. But military officers say they need more reinforcements.

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Talk of cross-border action by Afghanistan 'not wise': Rice
Washington (AFP) June 22, 2008
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview aired Sunday that threats by Afghanistan to pursue Taliban insurgents across the border into Pakistan were "not wise."

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