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Obama Approves 13,000 Support Troops to Afghanistan

By VOA News
13 October 2009

A major U.S. newspaper says President Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of at least 13,000 additional support troops to Afghanistan.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Pentagon is deploying the 13,000 new troops in addition to the 21,000 extra combat soldiers approved by Mr. Obama in March. Officials stress that the latest deployment is made up of support troops, such as engineers, medical personnel and intelligence experts, rather than combat troops.

Pentagon officials say the increase of support troops in Afghanistan should not come as a surprise. U.S. presidential administrations have not routinely publicized large deployments of support troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

For example, former President George W. Bush spoke only of 20,000 combat troops when announcing the Iraq surge and did not mention the 8,000 support troops that would also travel to Iraq.

On Sunday, a key Democratic U.S. lawmaker said he does not support sending more troops into Afghanistan - a request made by the top U.S. commander there.

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin added that forming a better strategy in Afghanistan is more important than increasing the number of U.S. troops in that country.

But other members of Levin's party, as well as a majority of Republicans, say Afghan security and governance cannot be improved without more troops on the ground.

General Stanley McChrystal has warned that the United States could lose the fight against Taliban insurgents unless more U.S. forces are deployed, a decision that falls on President Barack Obama.

President Obama has been meeting with senior political and military advisers at the White House for a series of strategy sessions to discuss the way forward in the eight-year-old conflict.

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months, amid more aggressive operations against the Taliban and other militant groups. Opinion polls show the war is steadily losing support among the American public.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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