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article imageBritish PM says 5,000 NATO troops needed in Afghanistan

By Bob Gordon     Nov 14, 2009 in Politics
While the Obama administration continues to mull over its options in Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown initiated an effort to raise another 5,000 troops from NATO members.
This has been an extremely difficult year for U.K. troops in Afghanistan. UK troops saw a significant, 150 percent increase in casualties in the first nine months of 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008. This has served to increase pressure on Brown to withdraw British troops.
In response, he has initiated an effort to obtain troop commitments from other NATO-members. He told the BBC:
We need our other NATO allies to help....There has got to be burden-sharing amongst the alliance, and I am sending people around Europe to persuade other countries they should commit more troops.
At the same time, many countries are hesitant to act until Obama shows his hand. His decision has been delayed because there is a major and significant rift in his inner circle over Afghanistan.
Digital Journalist Stephanie Dearing summarized the factions succinctly:
One side, consisting of the Defense Secretary, Robert Gates; Admiral Mike Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State all want to see America send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. The other side; which includes the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan who had acted as the U.S commander in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, along with Vice President Joe Bidden; advocate not beefing up the American force in Afghanistan. This side favours training Afghans to police themselves.
Increasing violence in Afghanistan, a growing sense that the mission is futile at best and a failure at worst, and the hesitancy of governments to take a firm position until the United States does, all weigh against the success of Brown's initiative. If it fails it will increase the resentment towards his recent announcement to send another 500 British soldiers to Afghanistan.
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