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Gates Mulls Deployment Decision

American Forces Press Service

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will soon consider a proposal to send more U.S. Marines into Afghanistan.

Press reports indicate that the Pentagon is proposing to send 3,000 Marines to help counter a possible spring offensive by the Taliban, but Gates said he has not yet received the proposal.

“I have asked a number of questions that I expect to be answered before I make up my mind,” the secretary said at a Jan. 10, Pentagon press conference.

Prior to a meeting with NATO allies in Scotland last month, Gates noted that shortfalls in troops, equipment and other resources have occurred since NATO's International Security Assistance Force assumed responsibility for all Afghanistan operations in October 2006.

In considering whether to deploy more U.S. troops, Gates said he does not want to take the pressure off NATO allies to fulfill their commitments, but he is concerned that the alliance continue to be successful in Afghanistan.

NATO needs to “continue to keep the Taliban on their back foot and that we defeat their efforts to try and come back,” Gates said. “So these are all considerations that I think have to be taken into account before I make up my mind and make a recommendation to the president on this.”

Gates said he expects the results of his decision will be announced soon.

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