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NATO Commander Seeks Extra Troops
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NATO's top commander of operations, General James Jones, acknowledged Thursday the alliance had been taken aback by the extent of violence in southern Afghanistan and urged allies to provide reinforcements.

"We are talking about modest reinforcements," Jones told a news briefing at NATO's European military headquarters in Mons, Belgium, saying commanders on the ground sought several hundred additional troops, more helicopters and transport aircraft.

Several NATO soldiers have been killed in fierce fighting with Islamist Taliban guerrillas since the alliance extended its peacekeeping mission to the south a month ago.

Jones said he would turn initially to existing contributors to the 37-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including Germany, which has several thousand troops in the relatively calm north of Afghanistan.

He also said he would plead with NATO nations to remove restrictions, known as caveats, on how and where a country's troops can be used, which tie commanders' hands.

Discussions would take place at a meeting of NATO chiefs of staff in Warsaw today and tomorrow, and Jones said he was confident they would produce early results.

"While some of it (violence) is predictable, we should recognize we are a little bit surprised at the level of intensity, and (the fact) that the opposition in some areas are not relying on traditional hit-and-run tactics," the US Marine general said. "It's something akin to poking the bee-hive and the bees are swarming," he said of the Taliban resistance in the south.

NATO is gradually taking over security responsibility, alongside the Afghan army, from a US-led force that invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

(China Daily September 8, 2006)


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