Defense Secretary Open To More Troops In Afghanistan

09.04.09 | FL News Team

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is open to suggestions for more troops and resources in Afghanistan. In a Pentagon briefing, Gates said he's "very open to the recommendations and certainly the perspective of General McChrystal." General Stanley McChrystal has prepared a comprehensive report on the situation in Afghanistan. McChrystal is the top U.S. commander there. The report is being analyzed by President Obama, Gates and other top U.S. officials. It's unclear whether McChrystal will request more U.S. troops for Afghanistan. Roughly 60-thousand Americans are in the war-torn nation, part of a NATO force of more than 100-thousand. The U.S. presence is expected to grow to about 68-thousand by year's end.


U.S. and NATO forces are struggling with a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda, along with government corruption in Afghanistan. Meantime, U.S. public support for the eight-year-old war is eroding. Gates said the mission in Afghanistan has not changed. With the eighth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks looming next week, Gates said the al-Qaeda assault "emanated from Afghanistan, under Taliban rule." Gates said he strongly disagrees with critics who suggest that it is time to get out of Afghanistan.


Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed the urgency of the mission in Afghanistan. He said, quote, "time is not on our side." Mullen argued that the Afghan war has been "under-resourced" for many years. Gates agreed that the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated, but expressed confidence that U.S. and NATO forces are poised to start turning things around.