U.S. offers anti-bomb tools to allies

February 06, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

ISTANBUL — —

The United States promised Friday that allies would receive armored vehicles, jammers and other technology meant to protect against roadside bombs, an offer that officials hope will entice those nations to step up contributions to the war in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the U.S. would provide heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected trucks, known as MRAPs, to allies conducting operations in violent areas of Afghanistan.

"They have saved thousands of limbs and lives in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said. "The United States now will do whatever it can ... and as soon as we can to provide surplus MRAPs to allies."

The armored trucks being provided to NATO and other allies fighting in Afghanistan are the heavier, original models that were used in Iraq. With the troop drawdown there, the U.S. has surplus trucks that can be donated, lent or sold to allies.

Officials have been pleased with some countries' responses to the U.S. and NATO requests for help. Germany has pledged about 850 additional troops, including about 500 trainers. Romania has pledged 600 additional troops. But the recruitment effort was dealt a blow Friday with France's decision to send only a small number of additional troops.

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