Washington, Dec.11 (ANI): The United States Government and the Pentagon have confirmed that they will be sending thousands of soldiers to war-ravaged Afghanistan to bolster the 8,000-strong British contingent which has been struggling to keep the Taliban-led insurgents at bay.
US commanders have said they would like to almost double the number of American troops in Afghanistan, an increase from about 32,000 to 60,000. Most of the extra 20,000 already committed will be deployed in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
The first US reinforcements of 3,500 marines will be deployed through southern Afghanistan, followed early next year by deployments south of Kabul and on the northern fringes of Helmand. Later in the year more US troops will be deployed in the thinly populated areas of southern Helmand, close to the Pakistan border. Others will spread out east into Kandahar province, where Canadian troops have been based, the Guardian has learned.
British forces in southern Afghanistan are locked in a stalemate with Taliban insurgents, General David McKiernan, commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan said in Kabul yesterday.
The insurgents were not winning, but the country was at a "tipping point", he added.
He added: "2009 is going to be a critical year for this campaign. It's elections here and a new administration in the US. It is a chance for the international community to stay committed and a window of opportunity to increase contributions."
The US is transferring thousands of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.
British military chiefs say pressure on UK armed forces means they will not be able to send the 4,000 British troops due to leave Basra by June next year to southern Afghanistan.
However, they will come under strong pressure from the new Obama administration in Washington to reinforce Britain's military presence in Helmand.
Military planners in London are drawing up contingency plans to deploy perhaps a battle group of 1,500 soldiers there - but only for a limited period around the Afghan presidential election in September next year.
However, scores of SAS special forces are expected to be transferred early next year from Iraq, where they have been engaged in operations against insurgency leaders.
They would reinforce US Special Boat Service soldiers who have targeted Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.
More effective and longer lasting military activity is needed in the next year, NATO commanders say. (ANI)