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Bush confirms troop increase

March 12, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — President Bush confirmed Sunday that he would be sending thousands of new support troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the previously announced "surge" of 21,500 combat troops.

At a news conference in Colombia, Bush said that an increase in support troops for Iraq had been anticipated from the start, and that his initial figure referred only to combat troops.

"Those combat troops are going to need some support," Bush said. "And that's what the American people are seeing in terms of Iraq, the support troops necessary to help the reinforcements do their job. My hope, of course, is that Congress provides the funding necessary for the combat troops to be able to do their job, without any strings attached."

Late Saturday, while Bush was in Uruguay, the White House released the text of a request from the president to Congress to provide funding for the additional support troops, including a previously unannounced boost of 3,500 troops for Afghanistan. Those troops would be in addition to the 3,200-member brigade combat team whose deployment in Afghanistan has been extended.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the $3.2 billion requested in the letter would pay for the 3,500 troops for Afghanistan, as well as the deployment to Iraq of 2,400 combat support troops, 2,200 military police and 129 troops for provincial reconstruction teams.

"In terms of Afghanistan, I did announce, as a result of a review of our policy, an additional 3,200 troops," Bush explained during the news conference. "But in addition to that, the troops that you're referring to are going to be part of a training and embedding mission that I did also discuss during that strategy, although I didn't have any details of the troops."

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