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Afghanistan - troop reinforcements

US envoy warns against sending more soldiers to Afghanistan

Article published on the 2009-11-12 Latest update 2009-11-12 14:13 TU

A US soldier on patrol in the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province. (Photo: Reuters/Tim Womborne)

A US soldier on patrol in the Pesh Valley in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.
(Photo: Reuters/Tim Womborne)

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, has advised President Barack Obama against making a fresh military surge, even as Nato's secretary general called for extra troops to be sent. The US administration is currently deciding on proposals to send tens of thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan.

Analysis: RFI's Tony Cross, Kabul

12/11/2009 by Angela Diffley

Eikenberry expressed reservation about sending additional forces while accusations of corruption continue to surround President Hamid Karzai's government.

He is apparently concerned that boosting the military presence would only increase Afghanistan's reliance on US forces, thereby undermining Washington's efforts to get Kabul to assume greater responsibility for its own security.

Eikenberry, a retired army general who commanded US troops in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, addressed his objections to President Obama in confidential memos last week, according to senior Washington officials.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Photo: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

His position puts him at odds with the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said Thursday that extra international troops were needed to train Afghan security forces, in view of an eventual transfer of power.

The comments come one day after President Obama held a war council at the White House to discuss strategies for the deployment of US troops in Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports that the US is considering four different scenarios, ranging from a "low-end" troop increase of around 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers, to a much larger commitment of 40,000 extra troops, as requested by the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

McChrystal says that the US faces likely defeat in Afghanistan unless it significantly increases its forces there.

Secretary General Rasmussen said Thursday that he shared General McChrystal's assessment and recommendation of a broad counter-insurgency strategy, but had not reached "a final decision on exact troop numbers".

After Wednesday's meeting, during which President Obama questioned Eikenberry about his position, the White House released a statement that stressed the desirability of the eventual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

"The president believes that we need to make clear to the Afghan government that our commitment is not open-ended," the statement said. "After years of substantial investments by the American people, governance in Afghanistan must improve in a reasonable period of time to ensure a successful transition to our Afghan partner."

President Obama is expected to make a decision on the US strategy in Afghanistan once he returns from a nine-day tour of Asia on 19 November.