Defense Secretary Robert Gates is visiting Camp Lejeune as thousands of its Marines prepare to deploy as part of the president's troop surge in Afghanistan.
Gates arrived Thursday at the urban warfare training facility on the sprawling Marine Corps base. Later in the day, the secretary is scheduled to present awards to four members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
He told the Marines training at the facility good luck on their mission and that the U.S. will ensure them getting all the equipment that they need to be safe.
About 4,000 Marines from Camp Lejeune and the nearby Marine Corps air stations at Cherry Point and New River are expected to deploy later this spring.
The troops will bolster the 38,000 American troops already fighting a resurgence in Taliban forces. President Obama recently ordered 17,000 more U.S. soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan.
Gates told reporters that he approves of the Obama administration's release of Bush-era memos on harsh interrogations of terrorist suspects because he expects that the documents inevitably will become public.
Gates says he was most concerned with the protection of CIA agents involved in the interrogations, which included harsh techniques that some in the Obama administration are calling torture. Gates says he wants the CIA personnel protected from prosecution.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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