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US to send 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan

The Pentagon announced this month that it will send at least 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan in April 2008.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said that a ground and air Marine contingent as well as a Marine battalion would be deployed to southern Afghanistan for a one-time, seven-month deployment.

Currently there are about 27,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including 14,000 with the NATO-led ISAF coalition. The other 13,000 U.S. troops in Combined Joint Task Force 82 are training the Afghan security forces and hunting terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi welcomed US the plan, but insisted that the long-term solution to security challenges in Afghanistan is to strengthen Afghan forces. “The long-term solution is that we need support to increase Afghan forces in quality and quantity, so they can take up the responsibility for their country," he said.

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