US deploying additional troops to volatile Helmand province
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Hundreds of additional US troops are being deployed to Taliban’s southern heartland of Helmand, where several districts are under threat of falling to the fighters.
The reinforcements would provide security and advise the Afghan National Army's 215th Corps personnel, US Army spokesman Col. Michael Lawhorn said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said it was a planned deployment of additional personnel to bolster force protection for the current staff of advisers and to provide additional advisers to help with ongoing efforts to re-man, re-equip and re-train the 215th Corps.
Lawhorn explained the new troops would be stationed in Helmand "to train, advise and assist their Afghan counterparts and not to participate in combat operations.”
Afghan forces in the restive province have suffered heavy casualties during clashes with the Taliban in different towns of Helmand, a major opium-produncing province.
Meanwhile, Resolute Support mission spokesman Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner said in an interview a US Army infantry battalion was deploying from New York to Helmand. “It is replacing another infantry battalion from Fort Drum,” he told the Stars and Stripes.
The two units are of comparable size, boosting the number of coalition troops in the volatile province, but not the overall number of US soldiers (9,500) in Afghanistan.
Besides training and assisting the 215th Corps to boost its performance, the new the troops will be based in southern provinces, including Helmand. Schoffner called Helmand and Kandahar provinces a priority for the Taliban.
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