According to defense experts quoted by the Washington Post, additional support troops are always needed when combat troops are increased. The White House, however, did not publicize President Obama's subsequent approval of additional support troops following the March increase in combat troops. Defense Department officials, however, have provided a clearer picture:
"The 21,000 are only combat forces, and when the combat forces go in, there are a certain amount of additional forces that are required," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who signs the deployment orders, had military officials identify last spring the entire scope of the increase and agreed that he would consult with Obama again if the Pentagon sought to go above that, Whitman said.Counting both support and combat troops, President Obama has authorized 34,000 additional troops for Afghanistan. Currently, the combined troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq exceed the number of troops during the height of the infamous Iraq "surge" of late 2007 and early 2008. Also, the White House is considering a request by General Stanley McChrystal for the deployment of thousands of additional combat troops to Afghanistan. This is definitely "Obama's War."
"Obama authorized the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000," said another defense official familiar with the troop-approval process.