US adding troops to fight Taliban in Pakistan safe-haven

February 18th, 2009 - 10:17 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Feb 18 (IANS) President Barack Obama has approved adding some 17,000 US troops to its forces in Afghanistan to fight a resurgent Taliban saying “the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action.”

“The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House Tuesday.

The troops increase “is necessary to stabilise a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction, and resources it urgently requires,” he said.

Two combat brigades of Marines and soldiers as well as necessary support forces will deploy in response to the months’ long request by the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, and is possible because a US military draw down in Iraq “allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan,” Obama said.

Obama, who during the campaign argued that the US military needed to shift its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, had been expected to announce an increase in troops there. Some estimates of what commanders needed had been as high as 30,000 troops.

“There is no more solemn duty as president than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm’s way,” Obama said.

Obama said the troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of a broader strategic review of the entire policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan that he ordered soon after assuming office.

“Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfil achievable goals in Afghanistan,” he said.

“As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed.”

That review is likely to be completed sometime around the end of March, which coincides with a NATO summit in Europe.

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