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More Troops Expected in ‘Center of Gravity’ in Southern Afghanistan

BY Larisa Epatko  November 30, 2009 at 4:50 PM EST

U.S. Army soldiers in the 4th Infantry Division react after hearing shots; Chris Hondros/Getty

The agricultural area of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is vulnerable to insurgent forces, and therefore generally expected to receive more troops under President Obama’s forthcoming revised Afghan strategy, reported Ben Gilbert of GlobalPost.

Although the military is being tight-lipped about specifics before President Obama makes his announcement on Tuesday night, it is generally understood that more troops will be sent to the restive areas of Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

Currently, NATO forces, made up mostly of U.S. and Canadian troops, are in the region and additional troops, if sent, would work to help secure Kandahar against insurgents and help its inhabitants feel safe, according to Gilbert, who is reporting from Afghanistan.

In the city of Kandahar itself, the Taliban has established its own courts, employed intimidation tactics, and set up a shadow government, he continued. So many reports are speculating that additional troops would help ring Kandahar to try to cut off the city from Taliban militants.

But the city is also Pashtun, and an increase in U.S. forces might be viewed as an occupying force.

The military is “really trying to walk a thin line here between trying to establish security and not be seen as an occupying force,” Gilbert said.

Opinions about a troop increase among some members of the military vary, he continued, with some saying the current troops should return home and resources directed toward health care and other domestic policies, while othersmaintaining that more “boots on the ground” are needed to make progress with the insurgency.

Hear Gilbert’s full interview with Judy Woodruff here: