The Secretary of Defense has recommended and the President has approved the deployment of additional units to Afghanistan in the spring of 2008. This extraordinary, one time deployment involves approximately 3,200 personnel and will enable commanders in Afghanistan to enhance the training of increasingly-capable Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to build on the military successes of 2007 and to expand the gains of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.
The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will deploy approximately 2,200 service members under ISAF command to conduct full-spectrum operations to capitalize on recent ISAF and ANSF successes in providing a safe and secure environment for the Afghan people in which to rebuild their lives. This deployment, of approximately seven months duration, will temporarily fill a standing ISAF request for a maneuver force in southern Afghanistan.
Additionally, a Marine battalion will deploy approximately 1,000 personnel to assist in the training and development of Afghan National Security Forces under the auspices of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). These additional forces will enable the acceleration and strengthening of Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police capabilities. Afghan forces continue to develop capability and increasingly assume the lead in security operations.
This temporary U.S. deployment reflects the continued U.S. commitment to Afghanistan security and the development of the Afghan National Security Forces. As a member of the NATO Alliance, the United States is doing its part to ensure ISAF has the forces necessary to ensure the hard-fought gains accumulated during the past six years by the Afghans and NATO are made irreversible.
In the run-up to NATO’s April 2-4 Bucharest Summit, the Department will work intensively with Allies and partners to ensure all outstanding ISAF requirements are filled and the need for future extraordinary deployments by the U.S. or any ally and partner is minimized.
The Department will continue to announce major unit deployments as the units are identified and alerted.