Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says that the United States could wind up sending even more troops to Afghanistan this year than was initially planned. During a visit to Fort Drum in New York, Secretary Gates said the number of troops by the end of the year could exceed the 68,000 planned in the Obama Administration’s escalation, though he said it probably would not be much higher.
National Security Adviser James Jones had earlier this month insisted that the US would not be increasing the number of troops to be sent to Afghanistan this year, though he did say the Obama Administration might send another 10,000 troops sometime in 2010.
New Afghan Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, however, has been told there is no limit to what he can ask for in additional troops, and he is expected to issue his report on the current troop levels sometime soon. It has been widely speculated McChrystal would ask for more troops.
The ability of the military to continue to throw increasing numbers of troops at the war in Afghanistan while maintaining troop levels roughly flat in Iraq is in serious doubt, and the Pentagon is mulling a plan to add another 30,000 soldiers to the Army so that the wars can continue.