Officials: 20,000 Afghan troops needed

Oct. 29, 2008 at 8:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. forces are struggling to deal with an intensified Taliban insurgency and need about 20,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to counter it, officials say.

With the troop casualties at their highest levels since the conflict began, and up to 30 percent more insurgents pouring into the country from neighboring Pakistan, military officials say U.S. forces in Afghanistan are undermanned and under-equipped, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Pentagon has already approved the deployment of 4,000 additional troops, set to arrive in January, and 10,000 to 12,000 more troops have been formally requested. But dealing with Afghanistan's mountainous terrain is so difficult, U.S. officials say they need many more combat engineers and support forces.

Those support troops "are in huge demand," Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli told reporters this month. "Quite frankly, it's something that concerns us as we look at what is going to be required in Afghanistan to build up that infrastructure."

Pentagon officials also say they need many more helicopters, which are key to moving troops in a country where there are few roads and only the most primitive infrastructure, the Post reported.

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