WASHINGTON – A brigade of 2,300 fresh men and women in uniform has arrived in Afghanistan,a Pentagon spokesman said,a deployment that required no congressional approval.
The Pentagon extended the tour of other troops involved in Operation Enduring Freedom who had expected to return home.
All are expected to fight in a likely spring offensive
After Robert Gates' first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary and his discussions with high-ranking Afghan officials and American combat troops,he increased the number troops upon the request of U.S. commanders serving in Afghanistan.
Recently,two high ranking delegations of U.S. members of Congress visited Afghanistan. The first delegation included Sens. Evan Bayh,D-Ind.,and Hillary Rodham Clinton,D-N.Y.,and Rep. John M. McHugh,R-N.Y. They wrote a letter to Gates urging him to increase the number of troops to defeat the coming push by the Taliban.
“The Taliban – and its al-Qaida partner – remains a pernicious enemy,and a failure to defeat it decisively in the spring risks undermining public confidence in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai,” Bayh and Clinton wrote in their letter.
“It would be tragic if we fail in Afghanistan because of an unwillingness to deploy a manageable size of additional troops to aid an important and willing ally during a time of true need,” the letter continued.
The senators also highlighted the continued shortage in intelligence,reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities,including Predator unmanned aerial vehicles,and the importance of helping a country that has proven to be a willing partner in the fight against terrorism,according to a press release issued after their trip.
Another senior bipartisan congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif.,traveled to Afghanistan Jan. 28 as part of their trip to Iraq,Pakistan,Afghanistan and Germany.
Rep. Dave Hobson,R-Ohio,was part of the seven-member delegation that held a press conference on their return Jan. 30.
Considering the issue of Afghanistan as “overlooked in discussions,” Hobson discussed three points about Afghanistan before talking about Iraq.
“We need to see more of a commitment from NATO countries,” he said. “The military effort against the Taliban is not over; more troops are needed,and our NATO and European partners must provide their share.” He added that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and Karzai need to resolve problems between their countries.
He also talked about Afghanistan's escalating poppy cultivation problem and said that without aggressive actions,problems with Pakistan's tribal leaders would undermine efforts of both the Afghan government and coalition forces.
On the other side,NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who received Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Jan. 30 at NATO headquarters said,”We should all do more,because we all don't do enough.”
Aziz expressed commitment for a strong and stable Afghanistan and said,”The one country that will benefit the most,after Afghanistan itself,will be Pakistan.”
Currently about 27,000 uniformed American men and women serve in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida remnants. Their fighters last summer showed a strong push through hit-and-run attacks,suicide attacks and a huge number of anti-government and anti-coalition forces strikes that resulted about 3,000 casualties,mostly civilian.
NATO leads a force of 30,000,including 15,000 of the American forces in Afghanistan,and took command of all international forces in Afghanistan in 2006. On Feb. 4,U.S. Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill,took command of International Security Assistance Forces,while mainly US troops serve in south and east of the country,said a Pentagon spokesman.