NATO allies encouraged to help more in Afghanistan

MONS, Belgium (AP) -- NATO's commander hopes members of the alliance will be motivated to send more troops to Afghanistan now that America is doing so.

Gen. John Craddock says the U.S. would like the move to be "a lead effort, a forcing function."

The U.S. plans to send 3,500 more Marines to Afghanistan by the end of the year. An Army brigade of about 5,000 will follow in January, with up to three more combat brigades in the next 12 to 18 months.

U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed European allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, especially to the more dangerous southern and eastern regions.

There are currently some 65,000 international troops in Afghanistan, almost half of them American. General Craddock describes the Taliban insurgency as growing more "virulent" than in the past.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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