Afghanistan Troop Buildup Begins

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Marines in the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, prepare to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom November 3, 2009 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Once in Afghanistan, the unit will fall under the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade -Afghanistan. Their mission will be to support combat operations as an artillery battalion.

    Close to 8,500 Marines and sailors will be deployed to Afghanistan in response to President Barack Obama's recent decision to send more troops to the region.  

    Of those troops, approximately 800 are Marines with the I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton. The rest will be Task Force 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and Regimental Combat Team-2 both based out of Camp Lejeune.

    President Obama told the nation last week that he will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but promised to start bringing them home in 18 months.

    The move would hope to defeat the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize a weak Afghan government. The escalation, which would take place over the next year, would put more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan at an annual cost of about $75 billion.

    The North Carolina units will deploy in December and early spring. The Camp Pendleton unit will deploy in spring 2010.

    Camp Pendleton has already committed to sending 10,000 troops, according to the San Diego Union Tribune, with 3,000 troops from the base deployed there currently. According to a statement released Monday, the additional units will bring the total number of Marines deployed to Afghanistan to approximately 19,500.

    Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has recommended speeding up the growth of the Afghan army and police. He wants an overall Afghan security force of 400,000 ---- 240,000 soldiers and 160,000 police officers ---- by October 2013.