July 17th, 2009
12:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Gates open to more U.S. troops in Afghanistan

 Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that he is open to adding more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that he is open to adding more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

(CNN) – It is possible more U.S. troops could be added in Afghanistan if the new American commander there needs them, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he does not expect a significant increase.

During a visit to troops at Fort Drum, New York, on Thursday, Gates said he is waiting to hear what Gen. Stanley McChrystal recommends after he completes a review of operations in Afghanistan.

By the end of this month, McChrystal will complete a "60-day" strategic assessment: a classified report to Gates on where the war stands, and what needs to be done.

He will tell Gates whether he needs more U.S. troops to fight the escalating conflict, according to a senior U.S. military official.

Gates asked McChrystal specifically to "state his requirements for resources" as part of the report, said the official - who did not want to be identified because the report is not completed.

The review is also expected to recommend that the number of Afghan troops be increased even beyond the current goal of 134,000, other military sources said.

During a speech and question-and-answer session with troops at Fort Drum, Gates acknowledged he would consider a potential recommendation to boost U.S. troops beyond the level of 68,000 already approved.

"We'll see what General McChrystal recommends," he said. "But I think there will not be a significant increase in troop levels in Afghanistan beyond the 68,000, at least probably through the end of the year. Maybe some increase, but not a lot."

Gates has made clear in the past he is reluctant to approve additional major increases in troop levels, preferring to keep the U.S. footprint in the country at a lower profile.

There are currently about 57,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the other 11,000 to arrive by the end of this year. Gates has said he wants to see if that level of troops would be sufficient.

Gates' press secretary, Geoff Morrell, told CNN the Fort Drum comments "are not necessarily a foreshadowing of what's to come."

He said Gates "doesn't want to impose an artificial troop cap on the commander," but does want to see if the current strategy can be carried out with the already-approved troop levels.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Robert Gates
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Charles

    This is NOT Obama's war.. It is the UN-Finished war by Bush. If we had not wasted our resources on Iraq and ignored the Afghanistan, then this war probably will be ended by now. Please use your brain, don't spin the facts!!

    July 17, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. marlene

    Please don't send more troops. Get the US out of both wars and send those troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, back to the United States.

    July 17, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Kevin B

    Mr Gates knows that the ball was dropped by the previous administration, this is just one more example of the incompetence and arrogance of basing a war on a lie in Iraq that is costing us resorces in Afghanistan

    The Bush team should be tried for gross negligence and derilection of duty.

    It is ashamed that Mr Obama's team has to continually clean up the mess left behind by the Bush team.

    July 17, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Kevin B

    Mr Gates knows that the ball was dropped by the previous administration, this is just one more example of the incompetence and arrogance of basing a war on a lie in Iraq that is costing us resources in Afghanistan

    It is ashamed that Mr Obama's team has to continually clean up the mess left behind by the Bush team.

    The Bush team should be tried for gross negligence and direlection of it duty to the American public.

    July 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Katie B in NC

    I have faith in General McChrystal's ability to get the job done, especially if he's given the resources he needs to do it right. Then bring 'em home.

    July 17, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Gator

    obama must be realizing the terrorist did'nt get a tingle up their leg upon an administration change.What happened to the warm and fuzzy feeling throughout the world.Reality check: these people still want to kill Americans

    July 17, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Zeb

    Bush-bashers take note! Obama's carrying the torch. I thought he said....oh, nevermind.

    July 17, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. bearced

    This is the fight we should have been concentrating on for the last 7 years!

    July 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Maria - Proud Democrat

    The upswing in violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is concerning and I hope Afghanistan does not become President Obamas Vietnam.

    July 17, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. State Dept blew it again

    What may I ask will constitute victory?
    We had a chance to support the return of the Monarchy and blew it. The exiled King was perhaps the only one who could pull the country together enough to forge a sustainable secular moderate regime without whack job voters using the tools of democracy to elect islamo-fascists as the palestinians did.

    July 17, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  11. State Dept blew it again

    What may I ask will constitute victory in Afghanistan?
    We had a chance to support the return of the Monarchy and blew it. The exiled King was perhaps the only one who could pull the country together enough to forge a sustainable secular moderate regime without whack job voters using the tools of democracy to elect islamo-fascists as the palestinians did.

    July 17, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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