New York : The United States is considering sending 7,000 more troops to war-torn Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from NATO allies, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing unnamed senior administration officials, the newspaper said if the plan was to be approved, the number of US troops in the country would rise to about 40,000, and entail at least a modest reduction in troops from Iraq.
The increasing proportion of US troops, from about half to about two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, would result in what one senior administration official described as “the re-Americanization” of the war.
“There are simply going to be more American forces than we’ve ever had there,” the official was quoted as saying.
President George W. Bush told allies at a NATO summit in Bucharest last month that the United States would significantly increase its force levels in Afghanistan next year.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates also has pushed other European allies to provide combat troops and equipment to fill shortfalls in the volatile south, but the response so far has been tepid.
But The Times said the Pentagon now appears resigned to the fact that NATO is unable or unwilling to contribute more troops despite its public pledges.
The increasing proportion of US troops in Afghanistan, from about half to about two-thirds of all foreign troops in the country, will likely result in what one senior administration official described as “the re-Americanization” of the war, the report said.
“There are simply going to be more American forces than we’ve ever had there,” the paper quoted the official as saying.
So far a dozen NATO countries have pledged a total of about 2,000 additional troops for Afghanistan, while alliance commanders have asked for 10,000, according to the paper.
The United States currently has about 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, 16,000 of them under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in eastern Afghanistan.
The other 18,000 are involved in counter-terrorism operations and training of Afghan security forces.
But a contingent of some 2,500 US Marines was deployed to Afghanistan last month to reinforce NATO forces in the south for seven months.
Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat who recently toured Afghanistan, complained that NATO’s commitment was “still not what it should be.” But he praised the deployment of the 3,200 marines, who have been operating in volatile areas near Kandahar.