President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized — and the Pentagon is deploying — at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.
The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.
The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq “surge” that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said. [continued...]
Recruits to the Afghan Army are being rushed into combat with a barely acceptable level of training, according to senior British officers closely involved in the programme.
With US and Nato leaders pressing for a rapid expansion of the army to relieve pressure on their own forces and facilitate their eventual departure, the recruits are becoming “cannon fodder”, another coalition official said.
Courses are being shortened, class sizes are swelling and there is a serious shortage of Afghan instructors and Western mentors. [continued...]
The disarray surrounding Afghanistan’s presidential election deepened Monday when an Afghan member of the vote-reviewing commission quit, citing “foreign interference.”
The resignation of Mustafa Barakzai from the Electoral Complaints Commission was not expected to affect the panel’s work of sifting through allegations of massive vote-rigging in the Aug. 20 balloting, officials said. But it added an acrimonious new element to a vote that has already become an exercise in recrimination — and has left Afghanistan in political limbo at a time when crucial decisions about the course of the conflict are being made in Washington. [continued...]