Up to 30,000 new U.S. troops in Afghanistan by summer
Sat Dec 20, 2008 - By Golnar Motevalli
KABUL (Reuters) - The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan by the beginning of next summer, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday.
Washington is already sending some 3,000 extra troops in January and another 2,800 by spring, but officials previously have said the number would be made up to 20,000 in the next 12 to 18 months, once approved by the U.S. administration.
"Some 20 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don't have an exact number," Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters in Kabul.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged a renewed focus on Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001 after the September 11 attacks.
The United States now has some 31,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Mullen said beefing up U.S. forces in Afghanistan was linked to winding down in Iraq.
"Available forces are directly tied to forces in Iraq. As we look to the possibility of reducing forces in Iraq over the course of the next year, the availability of forces to come here in Afghanistan will increase," Mullen said.
Mullen said the attacks by Islamist militants in Mumbai last month showed the need to reduce Indian tensions with Pakistan and that would help bring stability to Afghanistan.
"That's another big piece of the strategy, what I would call regional focus to include Pakistan, Afghanistan and India ... leadership in all three of those countries to figure out a way to decrease tensions, not increase tensions," Mullen said.
Well, yes, that's perfectly clear.
We'll just pump MORE troops into a volatile area. THAT should "decrease tensions", huh?
Is there an end to this lunacy in sight ? ? ? ?