Tuesday, December 1, 2009


N.Y. military town prepares for U.S. Afghanistan plan

By Katharine Jackson

WATERTOWN, New York (Reuters) - Some want to bring U.S. troops home or drop a huge bomb on Afghanistan to end the eight-year war, but many people in a New York town set to supply some of an additional 30,000 troops are unhappy.

President Barack Obama will propose Tuesday an expedited plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan over six months, an administration official told Reuters, in a war strategy shift he hopes will defeat the Taliban and allow a quicker U.S. exit.

But some people in Watertown, which borders Fort Drum military base about 240 miles northwest of New York City, do not think it is worth it.

"It's time for family to come home. Bring the kids home. You know, bring the kids home," said James Monaghan, whose 20-year-old daughter has served in Iraq.

"Being moved around and shipped over to Iraq, and ... it gets to be stressful," he said. "Especially when you've got a family as well. She's got kids. She's got a husband."

Fort Drum is expected to provide troops for the additional Afghanistan deployment.

It is home to the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, which specializes in training soldiers to handle difficult terrain and weather conditions, and has about 7,500 troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The division's First Brigade of 3,500 troops had been due to deploy to Iraq on a one-year mission shortly, but in October was told to stay at Fort Drum and await further orders, a military representative said.

"Every family is hoping that their loved ones come home. And so do I. I hope everyone comes home safely," said John Barker, as he walked along a Watertown street.

"But tactical precision and everything over there is key, and as long as (Obama) has a good state of mind and he has all the plans in front of him and he draws it up correctly, he's got good intentions, ... he's a good president," he said.


Opinion polls show Americans, faced with economic problems and exhausted by the Iraq war -- are deeply divided on Afghanistan. Among a handful of Watertown residents interviewed by Reuters Television, few seemed happy about Obama's plan.

Watertown, which has a population of about 27,000, is a shopping and social hub for Fort Drum. U.S. flags are a common sight hanging above the porches of wood-framed houses, and local businesses display signs supporting their local troops

Read more from REUTERS

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