ABC News’ Luis Martinez reports: As part of the Obama administration’s Afghan strategy review to be unveiled on Friday, an additional 4,000 troops will be ordered to Afghanistan to help train the Afghan army and police, defense officials tell ABC News.
While the troop announcement may be it for this year, it’s possible that even more troops will be headed to Afghanistan in 2010.
Last week, a senior administration official told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that by the end of August the total U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan will stand at 64,000. This official added that it was unlikely any more troops would be sent to Afghanistan this year beyond the additional trainers to be announced Friday. There are currently 38,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
However, it’s possible that the troop strength in Afghanistan could rise even higher next year, possibly to as many as 70,000 U.S. troops, as the Pentagon meets additional troop requests from military commanders in Afghanistan, another defense official said today.
That includes an additional combat brigade that top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, would like to employ in southern Afghanistan and possibly more trainers needed to train a planned doubling of the Afghan army’s size. Both the combat troops and trainers would require additional support troops known as "enablers."
The 4,000 trainers are in addition to the 17,000 troops that President Obama announced in February he was sending to Afghanistan this spring and summer. They will come from a combat brigade the Pentagon had slated in the original request for extra troops made by McKiernan. However, they were not included in February’s announcement for additional troops. At the time, the White House said any further troop deployments would depend on the results of the Afghanistan strategy review.
The deployment of the training brigade meets a long-standing request for 4,000 trainers to help the Afghan army and police, that Pentagon officials had hoped would be met by NATO countries.
However, the need for more trainers may grow next year with the planned doubling of the Afghan army’s size, so it’s possible that more trainers might be needed beyond those to be announced Friday.
If that’s the case, there will be a need for more enabler troops to support those extra trainers.