Senior military officers will soon propose deploying about 3,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, where the NATO-led security and stabilization effort is short of combat forces and trainers, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The proposal has not yet been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, whose very public efforts in recent weeks to get NATO nations to increase troop commitments in Afghanistan have yet to succeed.
If approved, most of the 3,200 troops, all marines, would be sent to southern Afghanistan, where NATO forces have faced a growing Taliban resurgence.
Gen. Dan K. McNeill, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, requested the additional forces, and the idea has been endorsed by Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of American forces in the Middle East, and by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon officials said.
The proposal for more troops was first reported Wednesday by ABC News on its Web site.
The security assistance mission has about 40,000 troops, of which 14,000 are American. An additional 7,500 combat soldiers and security trainers, as well as some helicopters, must be added to meet force levels that NATO nations have agreed are needed. Separately, the United States has 12,000 other troops in Afghanistan conducting counterterrorism missions. "This proposal is pre-emptive," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. "It does not reflect a deterioration in the security situation."