20,000 US troops head into south Afghan for surge against Taliban

January 2, 2009

Afghanistan (ChattahBox) -– The war on terror is going back to it’s roots as U.S. forces will be fortified in  southern Afghanistan on top of the 32,000 Americans already in the country, to cope with a fierce Taliban insurgency. At least 20,000 extra troops will augment the 12,500 NATO soldiers mainly British, Canadian and Dutch, in what amounts to an Afghan version of the surge in Iraq. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that Afghanistan could get up to 30,000 new U.S. troops in 2009, depending on the security situation in Iraq.

The Army Corps of Engineers will spend up to $1.3 billion in new construction for troop placements in southern Afghanistan. New construction at Kandahar Air Field foreshadows the upcoming infusion of American forces, with runways and housing being built, along with two new U.S. outposts in Taliban-held regions of Kandahar province.

Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in the last two years, and Taliban militants now control wide swaths of countryside. More U.S. troops — 151 — died in Afghanistan in 2008 than any of the seven years since the invasion to oust the Taliban, and U.S. officials warn violence will probably intensify next year. Military officials say they have enough troops to win battles but not to hold territory, and they hope the influx of troops, plus the continued growth of the Afghan army, will change that.

The infusion of U.S. power risks Americanizing a war that until now has been a shared mission of 41 coalition countries. Experienced U.S. general, Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, is assigned to the south. He says

“By introducing more U.S. capability in here we have the potential to change the game.If we get the troops, they’re going to move into areas that haven’t been secured, and when we do that, the enemy is there, and we’re going to fight,” said Nicholson, who spent 16 months commanding a brigade of 10th Mountain Division troops in eastern Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007. That fighting should eventually clear the way for security and governance to take hold, he said.


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