Cabinet Approves Fresh Troop Dispatch to Afghanistan

      December 09, 2009 09:13

      The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft bill to send some 320 troops to help the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. Another 30 could be sent if the security situation deteriorates. The bill is subject to approval by the National Assembly.

      Then first group's mandate will run from July 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012, but the period will probably be extended since the duties of the Provincial Reconstruction Team are expected to continue beyond that date.

      The government will submit the bill to the National Assembly this week. Construction of a camp for the PRT workers is planned for early next year.

      The troops will consist of about 310 security forces, many of them special forces, to protect the civilian PRT workers, and 10 Marines to guard the Korean Embassy. In all some 500 Korean personnel will be dispatched to the war-torn country including the 100 civilian PRT workers and about 40 police officers.

      The Defense Ministry is negotiating with the U.S. military about leasing or purchasing about a dozen U.S.-made mine resistant armored vehicles, each of which costs W1 billion (US$1=W1,155), to protect personnel. It will send four UH-60 helicopters for the first time since the Vietnam War and arm the troops with state-of-the-art K-11 multi-function rifles, 81 mm mortars, and K-6 heavy machine guns.

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