Pentagon Backtracks, Extends Afghanistan Tours

2,200 Marines will remain another 30 days despite repeated denials
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2008 2:57 PM CDT
A U.S. Marine, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, gives an Afghan girl a piece of candy during a patrol through a village near the town of Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan Sunday, May...   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – The Pentagon has extended the tour of 2,200 Marines in Afghanistan, after insisting for months the unit would come home on time. The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is doing combat operations in the volatile south, will stay an extra 30 days and come home in early November rather than October, a spokesman confirmed today.

Military leaders as recently as yesterday stressed the need for additional troops in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, has repeatedly said he did not intend to extend or replace the Marines in Afghanistan, calling their deployment there an extraordinary, one-time effort to help tamp down the increasing violence in the south.