Biden In Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden was told Saturday that thousands of new American troops expected in southern Afghanistan will need more helicopters and other support to beat back surging Taliban violence, an official said.

Biden and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham met with U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, head of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, said Col. Greg Julian, a U.S. military spokesman. Later, the visiting senators will meet with President Hamid Karzai.

"Gen. McKiernan explained the current situation and talked about the incoming troops and the need for additional enablers ... things like helicopters, engineers, military police, transportation assets," Julian said.

"As we expand in the south we will need those additional enablers to cover for the troops," he said.

The U.S. is rushing up to 30,000 American troops over to Afghanistan, some of whom will go to its volatile southern provinces, to combat a Taliban insurgency that has sent violence to record levels.

In 2008, 151 American troops died in the country, more than in any other year since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban.

President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of ending the war in Iraq and refocusing American's military efforts on the Afghanistan region.

Obama has called Afghanistan an "urgent crisis," saying it's time to heed the call from U.S. commanders for significantly more U.S. troops. Biden's visit is a clear signal that Obama's new administration plans to make the region an immediate priority.

Following a meeting with McKiernan, Biden shook hands and thanked some of the U.S. troops stationed at NATO's Kabul headquarters.

"Thank you, I mean it sincerely," Biden told the troops, according to a NATO statement. "It's a big, big deal, what you're doing here. You're making a big sacrifice in a (challenging) environment. Thank you for your service." The senator from Delaware will take office as vice president on Jan. 20.

There are some 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan serving alongside another 32,000 other NATO-led and coalition troops, the highest number since the ouster of the Taliban from power.

Southern Afghanistan has now become the center of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, with daily attacks, roadside bombings and suicide attacks targeting foreign and Afghan troops, which has left some 6,400 people - mostly militants - dead in 2008 alone.

Biden's visit to Afghanistan follows his trip to neighboring Pakistan, where aides said he met with President Asif Ali Zadari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Biden and Graham also discussed counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and the economy with Pakistan's interior adviser Rehman Malik and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are embroiled in a vicious Taliban-led insurgency, which has claimed thousands of lives.

Biden's tour comes after five U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in southern Afghanistan, and as U.S. officials warned the violence would likely intensify in the coming year.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed in an explosion Friday in southern Afghanistan, Julian said. Another two soldiers were killed in a suicide attack Thursday in a marketplace in Kandahar province's Maywand district.

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  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jan 11, 2009 at 10:24 AM
    Ray, if you want to lay blame on someone for not doing anything about Bin Laden, lay it on Bill "Slick Willie" Clinton.The last couple of years that he was president, Bin Laden was on the 6:00 news just about every other night talking his trash. The Clinton administration knew he was running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, but they chose to do what Dumbocrats do about military matters. Ignore them and wait until some Republicans with guts takes office and cleans up the situation. Kind of like when Jimmy"Mr. Peanut" Carter dumped the Iranian hostage mess in Ronald Reagans lap.
  • by Ray Location: Greenville on Jan 11, 2009 at 08:24 AM
    We'll have no one but Bush to blame for your scenario, Mr.T, because he didn't get the job done in Afghanistan. Rather than take out Bin Laden-the REAL mastermind behind 9/11-Bush chose to pursue a personal vendetta against Hussein in Iraq and send military resources there. We had no business being in Iraq, when they were never a direct threat to us.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jan 11, 2009 at 06:23 AM
    Ray, remember what you just said when Islamic radicals are waging war here on Americas streets. While you are hiding in the closet whimpering.At least the Republican administration had the guts to take the fight to them.
  • by WOLFGANG Location: CHOCOWINITY,NC on Jan 10, 2009 at 04:10 PM
    What did he tell them? From the liberal democrat Joe. Big O and I decided to get rid of the Armed Forces of America. Since Big O said he can BS and make a teaty with any country who wants to attack American. So you will all be home next month. With all the money saved. Big O likes Basketball, so Big and I " Joe" want to put a Basketball court at the end of every American Street. It is part of Big O's health plan to get Americans in good shape. What you say troops?
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Jan 10, 2009 at 04:07 PM
    I wish Botox forehead would get lost in the vast poppy fields.
  • by Ray Location: Greenville on Jan 10, 2009 at 02:44 PM
    Well, Mr.T, at least these "Dumbocrats", as you call them, are doing something to put an end to the mess the Bush administration got the military in. I can't see how it's possible for Obama to screw up the military any worse than Bush did.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jan 10, 2009 at 06:27 AM
    US military. In case you werent aware of it, he is a liberal Dumbocrat just like his boss is. They are going to give the US military the shaft everytime they get the oppurtunity.All of the military's funds will be going to some useless country with nothing for us to benefit from aiding them.Or it will go to people here in the US that have never worked a job, but all of a sudden they are included in the unemployed group looking for free money.

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