U.S. Enlists Allies in New Surge

Americans Seek Up to 7,000 Extra NATO Troops for Ramp-Up in Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com)
By Peter Spiegel and Stephen Fidler
November 23, 2009

The Obama administration is in advanced talks with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies for a coordinated rollout of a new Afghan war strategy, which U.S. officials hope will include a commitment by European allies to send several thousand additional troops.

U.S. and European estimates of the new troops they may get from NATO allies vary from 3,000 to 7,000. Those would complement the additional U.S. forces Mr. Obama is considering; those options range from 10,000 to 40,000, but U.S. officials have said a combination of combat troops and training forces totaling 35,000 has gained the most momentum. …

According to people briefed on U.S. plans, the Obama administration is targeting six European allies to contribute battalion-sized units, generally about 500 to 1,000 troops. Officials say they are most hopeful they can get commitments from Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Italy, which has 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, has signaled it would be willing to keep deployed the 400 added soldiers it sent as part of stepped-up security surrounding the August Afghan elections. An Italian official declined to comment. U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown likewise has signaled intention to send 500 more troops, and Turkey has recently announced it is doubling its current complement from 800 to 1,600.

Both Germany and the United Kingdom could find it politically difficult to commit more troops — at least in the coming weeks. …