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Other News: Army to Add 22,000 Soldiers

July 20, 2009 at 6:20 PM EST
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In other news, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Army would add 22,000 more soldiers to its ranks, and in Mumbai, India, the only surviving gunman in last November's shooting attacks changed his plea to guilty.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Jim, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced today he is boosting the U.S. Army by 22,000 soldiers. It’s a temporary move over the next three years to meet the needs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and deployments around the world. It raises the Army’s total strength to 569,000 soldiers.

At the Pentagon, Secretary Gates said the decision was necessary.

ROBERT GATES, secretary of defense: The persistent pace of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last several years has steadily increased the number of troops not available for deployment in the Army.

Its ability to continue to deploy combat units at acceptable fill rates is at risk. Based on current deployment estimates, this is a temporary challenge which will peak in the coming year and abate over the course of the next three years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Gates also denounced a Taliban video showing a missing American soldier in Afghanistan. He was identified as 23-year-old Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho. He was captured in Afghanistan about three weeks ago. Gates said he was disgusted at the Taliban’s exploitation, but gave his assurance that U.S. commanders are, quote, “sparing no effort” to find the soldier.

July became the deadliest month for American troops in Afghanistan since the war began there almost eight years ago. The U.S. military reported four service members were killed today in a roadside bombing in the east. So far, in July, at least 30 U.S. troops have been killed.

And the British toll grew to 16 this month when a British soldier was killed on patrol in Helmand province on Sunday.

In Mumbai, India, the only surviving gunman in last November’s shooting attacks changed his plea today to guilty. The confession from Ajmal Kasab was unexpected and abrupt and reversed months of denials. The Pakistani national is believed to be one of ten gunmen who stormed several sites around the financial capital. The three-day assault on the city once known as Bombay killed 166 people.

The public prosecutor said the confession was unexpected.

UJJWAL NIKAM, special public prosecutor: Today, we are very surprised that abruptly Kasab has taken this time that he would like to confess his sin. In fact, I was personally very shocked. My police officers were very shocked.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The gunman, Kasab, maintained his confession was not coerced.

It was widely reported that CIT Group is staving off bankruptcy with an emergency $3 billion loan. The small-business lender reached an agreement with major bondholders. It gives CIT time to try and cut its debt. A $1 billion payment is due in August and by the first quarter of 2010. It faces more than $7 billion in debt. CIT needed financing after the government rejected a second bailout last week.

Wall Street climbed on the CIT news and stronger-than-expected economic activity in June. The Conference Board, a business research group, said indicators, including home building and unemployment, topped projections.

In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 104 points to close at 8,848. The Nasdaq rose 22 points to close at 1,909.