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U.S.: 16,000 U.S. Troops Received Afghan Orders

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen
The top U.S. military officer says 16,000 American troops have now received their orders to deploy to Afghanistan following President Barack Obama's announcement of his new Afghan strategy last week.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on December 10 that the first fresh troops -- a battalion of Marines -- are expected to arrive in southern Afghanistan next week.

Mullen added that tens of thousands of tons of construction materials, winter gear, and other equipment are also being prepared for shipment to Afghanistan for use by the 30,000 fresh troops ordered to Afghanistan by Obama. When all the new troops arrive, the United States will have some 100,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

President Obama, meanwhile, has said there is no ambiguity in his announcement that U.S. forces will start withdrawing from Afghanistan in July, 2011.

But Obama said the pace of the U.S. withdrawal will depend on the capability of Afghan authorities to take control of the country, and he suggested troops could still be in Afghanistan for years to come to support the Afghan government and counterterrorist activity.

Obama said there would be no "precipitous drawdown" of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

compiled from agency reports