NATO Seeks 2000 More Troops for Afghanistan

NATO is seeking an additional 2,000 troops to bolster its force in Afghanistan amid increasing insurgent violence, a spokesman said Friday in Warsaw, where the alliance's defense chiefs were meeting.

NATO's top military commander, Gen. James L. Jones, on Thursday called on the 26 member nations to provide more troops for Afghanistan, which is facing its deadliest spate of violence since the Taliban regime was ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

NATO spokesman Col. Brett Boudreau told The Associated Press the shortfall was for "2,000-plus" troops.

In a telephone interview ahead of the opening of the two-day conference, Boudreau said the defense chiefs were well aware of the demand for extra troops as the NATO forces engage in increasingly intense ground combat with the Taliban.

"This is not news to anybody," Boudreau said.

However, he said it was not sure the Warsaw meeting would produce a definite decision on reinforcements, because the generals may have to report back to political authorities in their homeland before authorizing additional deployments.

Hundreds of people — mainly militants — have been killed almost monthly this year amid a wave of suicide bombings and ambushes in Afghanistan.

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Jones said he was disappointed by the lack of commitment from some NATO nations and stressed he is hoping to drum up hundreds of troops, with planes and helicopters that could play a key role as allied forces seek to "destroy" the insurgents before they head to mountain hideouts for the winter.

On Friday, Turkey's top military commander said his country would not be contributing any combat troops. Turkey currently has 900 military personnel there helping with reconstruction.

Some 20,000 NATO soldiers and a similar number of U.S. forces are in Afghanistan trying to crush the emboldened Taliban insurgency. The heaviest fighting takes place across vast desert plains in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces, also center of the country's massive opium trade.

The NATO meeting is held three times a year and is in Warsaw for the first time. Poland joined the alliance in 1999.

Poland has around 100 troops in Afghanistan at the Bagram air base and three officers at the airport in Kabul.

CountryWatch: Afghanistan