NATO Afghan force to get only some extra troops: U.S.

Tue Apr 1, 2008 10:04am EDT
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By Andrew Gray

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - NATO leaders are likely to commit more troops this week to help fight Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan but the force will still fall short of what commanders want, the U.S. defense secretary said on Tuesday.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Paris might agree to send "a few hundred" more troops to bolster the 47,000-strong NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Leaders of the 26-member alliance meet in the Romanian capital Bucharest this week with the mission high on their agenda amid concern about rising violence, particularly in southern Afghanistan.

Robert Gates said the force's commander wanted an extra three brigades for the mission, but acknowledged that it would take longer to send extra troops.

The size of a brigade varies depending on its function and nationality but a U.S. combat brigade has between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers.

"I think that we will see some additional commitments in Bucharest," Gates said at a joint news conference with his Danish counterpart Soren Gade.

"I don't think they'll be anywhere near that number. This is a challenge we'll have to keep working at."

NATO officials say the force is roughly between 1,500 and 3,000 troops short of the requirements laid out in an alliance document setting out the units needed for its mission.   Continued...

<p>French soldiers stand guard in front of the Darlaman Palace as part of security measures surrounding the visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Kabul, December 22, 2007. REUTERS/Eric Feferberg/Pool</p>