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ARLINGTON, Va. — Families of about 3,200 stateside Marines are being notified about an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan this spring, a military official confirmed Monday.

CNN first reported Monday that families were being notified as part of a move to bolster coalition forces in Afghanistan ahead of an anticipated spring offensive by the Taliban.

The official confirmed the report but could not say whether Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed orders for the Marines to go downrange.

Corps officials could not say Monday whether the Marines had received orders to deploy or to prepare for such a deployment.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would not say Monday whether Gates had signed the Marines’ deployment orders.

“When we have a decision to announce, we will,” Whitman said.

The official said the deployment would involve one Marine Expeditionary Unit and one battalion, which are expected to arrive in Afghanistan about March or April and spend seven months downrange.

The official said the Marines that would be deployed are based in the continental United States, but he could not be more specific than that.

Originally, planners had considered sending about 3,400 Marines to Afghanistan, but officials then decided to send 1,000 trainers instead of 1,200, the official said.

A formal announcement on the deployment is expected later this week, the official said.

Gates has said the coalition in Afghanistan faces a shortfall of about 7,500 troops, including a request for about 3,400 troops to train Afghan security forces, especially the police.


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