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Sunday, 7 December 2014

US adds 1000 troops to force staying in Afghanistan.......................

More troops to stay in Afghanistan
THE US will keep about 1000 more troops in Afghanistan than planned early next year to fill a temporary NATO troop gap in the new mission to train and advise Afghan security forces, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday on his final visit to this war-weary country as Pentagon chief.
Standing with President Ashraf Ghani, Mr Hagel said the original plan to cut US troop levels to 9800 by the end of this month had been abandoned, but not because of a recent surge in Taliban attacks.
Mr Hagel said the US would keep up to 10,800 troops for the first few months of next year and then restart the drawdown, which is scheduled to reach 5500 troops by the end of next year.
The US decided to keep extra forces in the country temporarily because planned troop commitments by US allies for a NATO train-and-assist mission starting next month have been slow to ­materialise.
General John Campbell, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview he was confident NATO members would furnish the necessary number of troops for the new training mission, which begins on January 1. “It’s just going to take a few extra weeks or months to get them in Afghanistan,” he said.
General Campbell, who took over on August 26 and has served two previous tours in Afghanistan, praised the new government led by Dr Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
“It’s like night and day difference dealing with this government,” compared with the previous government led by Hamid Karzai, who was often publicly critical of US military efforts against the Taliban insurgency, General Campbell said.
He said the morale of Afghan forces had been boosted by Dr Ghani’s enthusiastic embrace of their efforts and sacrifices.
Mr Hagel said Barack Obama agreed to allow General Campbell the extra 1000 troops “for a few months” only. “But the President’s authorisation will not change our troops’ missions, or the long-term timeline for our drawdown,” Mr Hagel said.
He said the US would also keep pursuing a “limited” counter­terrorism mission in Afghanistan beyond this year.
“We have not forgotten what brought America’s armed forces here over a decade ago,” he said.
“We are committed to preventing al-Qa’ida from using Afghanistan as a safe haven to threaten the US, our allies and partners, and the Afghan people. And we will take appropriate measures against Taliban members who directly threaten US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, or provide direct support to al-Qa’ida.”
The Defence Secretary arrived in Kabul one day after Mr Obama said he would nominate one of Mr Hagel’s former deputies, Ashton Carter, to succeed him as Pentagon chief.
Mr Hagel resigned under pressure on November 24.