ARLINGTON, Va. — Commanders in Afghanistan have requested about 3,400 extra troops to train Afghan security forces, Defense officials said Monday.

The Joint Staff, which assists the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in accomplishing his responsibilities, is working to determine which troops would head to Afghanistan, a senior Defense official said.

The troops would likely come from the Army, the official said.

The commander of Task Force Phoenix, charged with training Afghan police and soldiers, made the request for more trainers to the commander of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, CSTC-A spokesman Maj. Sheldon Smith said.

The move would increase the number of embedded trainers with Afghan National Police, Smith said in a Monday phone interview.

Reinforcing the Afghan National Police is an essential part of providing stability and security in Afghanistan, Smith said.

“In a lot of instances, the police are the first ones to confront the insurgents, and you get the army to come in and reinforce them, so building a quality police force that has the respect of the Afghan people and is effective is our goal,” Smith said.

It is hoped that many of the new trainers will have experience with civilian law enforcement, he said.

The Washington Post and The Associated Press first reported over the weekend that President Bush had asked for money for extra troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, including the trainers.

But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman could not confirm Monday that commanders in Afghanistan had asked for more trainers.

Such a request has not gone before or been approved by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Whitman said.

Whitman could not provide more information.

“I can’t really talk about it because I really don’t know what it consists of, but there may be a requirement or a request coming forward for some additional trainers in Afghanistan,” he said.

Officials have said they expect the Taliban to launch an offensive this spring.

Last month, the Defense Department decided to send the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan instead of Iraq to keep U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan at about 27,000.

The 173rd is slated to deploy this spring to relieve the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, which was extended up to 120 days.

Last year saw growing violence in Afghanistan, including the increasing use of roadside bombs against U.S. and other coalition troops.

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