U.S. President George Bush says American and coalition forces are
engaged in a tough fight in Afghanistan, and troop levels are under
constant review. VOA's Paula Wolfson has details from the White House.
was the deadliest month for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan since
the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. It was also the second month in a row
that coalition troop loses in Afghanistan were greater than in Iraq.
President Bush says he is aware of the difficulties American and allied forces are facing.
"It has been a tough month in Afghanistan, but it has also been a tough month for the Taliban," said President Bush.
He says the coalition losses may be high because they are taking the battle to the enemy.
reason why there have been more deaths is because our troops are taking
the fight to a tough enemy - an enemy that does not like our presence
there because they do not like the idea of America denying safe haven,"
said Mr. Bush.
The Bush administration has been urging other
countries to step up their troop commitments to Afghanistan, with
France and Great Britain among those offering a positive response.
are about 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration
has told NATO allies it plans to send more troops in 2009. But
President Bush indicates some could go earlier, saying the number
remains under review.
The top U.S. military officer, Admiral
Mike Mullen, admits there are not enough coalition troops currently in
Afghanistan to hold territory taken from the Taliban. He says NATO
will never be able to provide enough troops to do the job, and says he
hopes to get extra American forces in as soon as they are available.
don't have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach to send into
Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq," said Admiral
Mullen. "And we're on an increasingly positive path in Iraq, in lots of
dimensions, and so I'm hopeful towards the end of the year
opportunities like that would be created."
But Admiral Mullen
says he does not have a specific timeline for sending more U.S. troops
to Afghanistan. The admiral also welcomes Pakistan's effort during the
past week to crack down on militants in its tribal areas, along the
Afghan border. He says it is important for Pakistan to sustain that
effort in order to deny insurgents the safe havens they have been using
to launch attacks on Afghanistan.