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Troops diverted to prepare for Afghan surge

  • Story Highlights
  • Naval brigade diverted from Kuwait to Afghan mission
  • 25th Naval Construction Brigade will prepare for influx of U.S. troops in Afghanistan
  • U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants at least 20,000 extra troops
  • So far, deployment order has been signed for an extra 3,000
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A naval brigade is being diverted to Afghanistan to help prepare for the extra U.S. troops that will be sent to that country, a Pentagon spokesman announced Friday.

"They are building capacity to accommodate the expected additional forces the U.S. has committed to this operation," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The 25th Naval Construction Brigade will leave Gulfport, Mississippi, in late February to support Operation Enduring Freedom, Whitman said.

The "Seabees" will provide engineering and construction support, which can include building barracks, bridges, runways, pump stations and other public works.

The unit was originally scheduled to deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Their change in orders was announced just days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, and one month after Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a deployment order to move an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Military officials say those troops will be part of a combat aviation brigade, bringing helicopters to the region, and will go in late spring or early summer.

There are currently more than 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but the U.S. commander there has requested more.

Gen. David McKiernan has requested at least 20,000 more troops be sent to fight resurgent Taliban forces, and Obama has said he would like to see more troops rotated into Afghanistan.

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