More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department says
An Army general warns of strain on deployed troops.
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In a recent profile of Defense Secretary Robert Gates by The New York Times, Mr. Gates, on a November visit to an Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, is quoted telling a group of wives of soldiers still in Iraq that he knew the 15-month tours were "exhausting" soldiers and families and hoped to return to the usual 12-month tours by the end of 2008.Skip to next paragraph
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But all these calculations depended on two crucial premises — that security continues to improve in Iraq and that Iraqi politicians settle their sectarian disputes. If those premises don't hold, further troop cuts beyond July might not be possible; deployment schedules might not be relaxed, either. Under those circumstances, it will be hard for the Army to sign up tens of thousands of extra recruits.
Still, as the US continues to struggle with its frayed military units, it can probably expect a fiercer fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports:
More foreign soldiers and Afghan civilians died in Taliban-related fighting last year than in any year since U.S. and coalition forces ousted the extremist Islamic militia, which ruled most of the country, in 2001. Military officials here expect the coming year to be just as deadly, if not more so, as the Taliban becomes more adept militarily and more formidable in its deployment of suicide bombers and roadside explosives.
Washington's NATO allies are debating how much more they want to get into the fight in Afghanistan.
Since 2002 there have been 2,500 Canadian troops stationed in the volatile southern part of the country.
Seventy-eight Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed, which has divided public opinion back home.
Canada's minority Conservative government wants to extend the mission beyond its current deadline of early 2009 to the end of 2011.
There appears to be growing consensus between the government and the main opposition party.
France may send hundreds of ground troops to help NATO fight insurgents in east Afghanistan, Le Monde newspaper said on Tuesday.
Such a move could get a mixed reaction from NATO allies such as the United States which want France and other European allies to deploy troops in the south of the country, where the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents has been toughest.