9,000 Marines Heading to Afghanistan Immediately After Obama Announcement

Aims to Double Marine Presence in Helmand

by Jason Ditz, November 29, 2009

The United States is wasting no time in throwing more troops at the war in Afghanistan. Officials say as soon as President Obama makes his Tuesday announcement of the escalation of the war, 9,000 additional Marines will depart for Afghanistan.

The 9,000 Marines will head to the Helmand Province, roughly doubling the number of marines on the ground in the tense province. It will also be a significant portion of the estimated 34,000 additional troops President Obama will commit to the war.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said the escalation would come quickly, despite caution that it was complicated to add so many troops to a war in a landlocked, virtually infrastructure free country on the other side of the globe. Still, most assumed it would be at least January when the troops started arriving.

That the troops are all heading to Helmand will no doubt be troubling news to Pakistan, as Prime Minister Gilani cautioned only two days ago that he was worried a US escalation in Helmand could destabilize the nation’s Balochistan Province.

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