Afghanistan A shortage of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is forcing commanders to rely more on air combat, which can cause more civilian deaths, a top U.S. commander said, underscoring a trend seen lately in a series of attacks that have angered and embarrassed the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said he needs at least three more combat brigades, in addition to the one arriving in January. Without the additional troops, the war will be longer and deadlier, he said.
McKiernan's comments came as Defense Secretary Robert Gates planned to meet Wednesday with Afghan officials.
"The danger is that we'll be here longer and we'll expend more resources and experience more human suffering than if we had more resources placed against this campaign sooner," McKiernan told reporters traveling with Gates.
He also said he knows he can only get more combat forces if troops are diverted from Iraq. The Army brigade arriving in Afghanistan in January was initially scheduled to go to Iraq, and it includes about 3,700 soldiers.