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3,100 more troops on Afghanistan deployment list

The troops, most from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade at Ft. Hood, Texas, will deploy this summer. The Pentagon has now issued orders to 25,000 of the 30,000 additional troops bound for Afghanistan.

January 13, 2010|By Julian E. Barnes
  • Army Staff Sgt. Francisco Espinoza of Tucson patrols in Orgun, Afghanistan. Most of the 30,000 additional U.S. troops headed to the country will be in place this summer.
Army Staff Sgt. Francisco Espinoza of Tucson patrols in Orgun, Afghanistan.… (Spencer Platt / Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington — The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the latest troop deployment for Afghanistan, a move aimed at ensuring that the bulk of additional forces requested by President Obama will be in place this summer.

The Defense Department said 3,100 troops, most from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division based at Ft. Hood, Texas, would deploy to Afghanistan sometime this summer.

With the announcement, the Pentagon has issued deployment orders for about 25,000 of the 30,000 additional troops approved in the fall by the Obama administration.

The orders come amid reports of White House concern over the pace of the troop buildup.

But both White House and Pentagon officials have downplayed reports of tension, although Defense Department officials are pushing to quickly move troops into the country.

"It is January, and we have 25,000 of the 30,000 identified and with deployment orders to go," said Bryan Whitman, the Pentagon spokesman. "We are on the schedule we set out. These forces are moving in rapidly."

The latest announcement involved 2,600 soldiers assigned to the aviation brigade at Ft. Hood, as well as 500 other support troops.

They will join more than 7,500 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C.; 3,400 Army soldiers from Ft. Drum, N.Y.; 3,400 Army troops from Ft. Campbell, Ky.; and nearly 7,000 support troops.

The additional troops will increase the size of the U.S. force in Afghanistan to nearly 100,000.

Citing security concerns, Whitman would not disclose the precise date that the aviation brigade would deploy to Afghanistan.

When the new Afghanistan war strategy was announced in December, White House officials said they wanted the additional forces to be in place within six months.

During congressional testimony later, top Pentagon officials said the buildup would be completed by the fall.

Waving off talk of tension, officials have said that both the White House and Pentagon want the troops in place in Afghanistan in order to have maximum effect.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity about the internal planning process, said that nearly all of the forces would be in place by August.

The logistics of moving extra forces into Afghanistan pose formidable challenges. Not only must extra equipment be shipped or flown into the country, but facilities to feed and shelter the troops have to be constructed.

Although some bases in Afghanistan are built up, with regular barracks and expansive chow halls, military leaders are pushing for troops to travel more lightly and live in austere conditions.

New facilities will be bare-bones compared with existing large bases at the Bagram airfield or those near Kabul, the capital, officials have said. However, they cautioned, even spare facilities take time to build.

julian.barnes@latimes.com

Christi Parsons in the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.

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