US to Beef Up Afghanistan Combat Force

Up to 14K fighters swap places with noncombatant troops

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 2, 2009 8:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Pentagon will add up to 14,000 combat troops to its Afghanistan force, replacing noncombatant support units with more "trigger-pullers" as casualties continue to climb. With support for the war waning, the Defense Department's "force optimization" plan will not increase the number of US troops, and may even lead Gen. Stanley McChrystal to ask for a smaller top-up in the future. Many of the noncombatant roles will likely be filled by Afghans or controversial private contractors.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Pentagon believes that the military bureaucracy in Afghanistan needs to be recalibrated after eight years of war. Reliance on contractors such as Blackwater in Iraq led to massive outcry over excessive violence. In Afghanistan, the situation might not be much better; a watchdog group said yesterday that private security guards at the US embassy in Kabul are nurturing what the paper calls "a Lord of the Flies environment."

Soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade take position next to Sari Ghundi village in Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, Monday, Aug. 10, 2009.
Soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade take position next to Sari Ghundi village in Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, Monday, Aug. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A gunner from the 2-87 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, NY, keeps watch on a road in Sayed Abad district, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2009.
A gunner from the 2-87 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, NY, keeps watch on a road in Sayed Abad district, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)
Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta/file)
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They just stare out from the tower. So let's bring in contractors. Now you can have a thousand more troops in the field. - A Pentagon official, speaking anonymously

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