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Terrorism & Security

U.S. Marines ordered to remain in Afghanistan

The US and NATO struggle to maintain troops even as the Taliban reclaim southern and eastern Afghan provinces.

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The number of Western soldiers killed this year rose by five last Friday, when a series of bombings killed four soldiers in Kunar Province and, separately, one soldier in Khost – both eastern provinces along the border with Pakistan, reports Agence France-Presse.

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The new deaths take to 149 the number of mostly Western soldiers to die in Afghanistan this year, a majority losing their lives in attacks. For the past three months, more foreign troops have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

Due to the violence, the US and Canada have been pushing for NATO to send more troops, but with little success. The move to extend the Marines' deployment underscores growing frustration on the part of the US, writes Tony Perry for the "Babylon and Beyond" blog on the Los Angeles Times website.

It's no secret that U.S. civilian and military leaders are frustrated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for not providing more troops for the fight against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
"Some of our allies do not want to fight, or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used," [Secretary of Defense Robert Gates] wrote recently in a widely distributed memo.
NATO countries, Gates noted, have two million troops – not counting the U.S.
"Yet we struggle to sustain a deployment of less than 30,000 non-U.S. forces in Afghanistan," Gates wrote in the same memo, "and we are forced to scrounge for a handful of helicopters."

One country that has answered the call is the Czech Republic, according to the Associated Press.

The Czech parliament approved the deployment of up to 415 Czech servicemen in NATO's peacekeeping force in Afghanistan this year.
Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek says the number of Czech troops serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force could reach some 600 in 2009.

As NATO struggles with troop deployments, violence in Afghanistan continues to spiral dramatically, Agence France-Presse reports.

The violence has grown year on year, ruining the post-Taliban government's hopes of rebuilding a country destroyed by decades of war.
An umbrella body of aid groups said Friday that insurgent attacks, bombings and other violent incidents were up by about 50 percent this year compared with the same period last year.
Unrest has spread to once stable areas and welfare agencies were forced to scale back aid delivery even as drought and food price hikes put millions of people in difficulty, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief said.

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