President Barack Obama says he's sending additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan to battle insurgent threats and crumbling security along the Pakistan border.
Obama has approved a Pentagon request to deploy Marines and Army troops to the region. Congressional officials say an estimated 17,000 troops will go in the coming months.
Pursuant to President Obama's decision, Secretary Gates ordered the deployment of two additional combat units, totaling more than 12,000 troops, to Afghanistan. The 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), from Camp LeJune, N.C., with approximately 8,000 Marines will deploy to Afghanistan in late Spring 2009.
The 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy approximately 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in mid-summer 2009. This Stryker Brigade and the MEB will deploy to increase the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Approximately 5,000 additional troops to support these combat forces will receive deployment orders at a later date.
In a statement Tuesday, Obama called sending armed forces into harm's way one of a president's most solemn duties.
But he said deteriorating security in Afghanistan made it necessary, adding that the country has not received the strategic attention or resources it needs.
Obama also said he is withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. He said that will give the Pentagon more flexibility in shifting troops to Afghanistan.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)