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Report: Pentagon Urges Top US General in Afghanistan to Delay Call for Troops

By VOA News
22 September 2009

A major U.S. newspaper is reporting that the Pentagon has told its top commander in Afghanistan to delay submitting a request for additional troops.

The Wall Street Journal quotes defense officials Tuesday saying the Obama administration asked for the delay so it can be sure the U.S. is "using the right strategy" before looking into additional troop requests.

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has warned that the mission "will likely result in failure" if more troops are not sent within the next year.

But General Stanley McChrystal also says that "while the situation is serious, success is still achievable" if the mission receives proper resources and support throughout the coalition.

McChrystal's remarks are part of a strategic assessment that is still officially secret, but The Washington Post published an unclassified version on its Web site Monday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN Monday he supports McChrystal's recommendation for more U.S. troops. But he also emphasized the need for greater protection of Afghan communities and civilians.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman on Monday said U.S. President Barack Obama and his national security team are reviewing the assessment. He would not say, however, when General McChrystal will make his expected request for more troops, or when a decision might be made.

Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.N., Zahir Tanin, told VOA that Afghan citizens' key concern is whether the troops can deliver security and defeat insurgents. He said they are not focused on the number of foreign troops in the country or which strategy is implemented, as long as those goals are accomplished.

Meanwhile, NATO military officials said in a statement Tuesday that two soldiers, including one American, died in separate roadside bombings. The attacks occurred Monday in southern Afghanistan.

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