The US has announced it will deploy an additional 7,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to plug the gap left by its European allies. This brings the number of US troops in the country to 40,000—the highest since the invasion in 2001.
US defence secretary Robert Gates had been touring European capitals in an attempt to get Nato – the military alliance that runs the occupation—to increase the number of soldiers.
Fearful of growing anti-war sentiment, most European governments have deployed minimal ground forces.
Now Gates has threatened to take control of military operations ahead of a much feared “spring offensive” by the resistance.
According to reports from Pakistan, the new government is keen to reach a truce with rebels along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The US fears this truce will free up resistance fighters who regularly cross into Pakistan to escape occupation troops.
The “mini surge” is scheduled for this area, which raises the possibility of US troops pouring over the border and spreading the fighting into Pakistan as part of a strategy of “hot pursuit”.