- Associated Press - Thursday, January 6, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is sending 1,400 more Marine combat forces to Afghanistan.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said Thursday the Marines are being notified now and are expected to go within weeks.

Col. Lapan said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the additional forces Wednesday in hopes of consolidating gains already made during the troop buildup in Afghanistan and of putting extra pressure on insurgents.

When President Obama a year ago approved the original troop surge of 30,000 forces, he gave Mr. Gates leeway to add an extra 10 percent , or 3,000 extra forces, as need arose. Col. Lapan said the additional 1,400 Marines will keep the number within the limit that Mr. Obama approved.

The president plans to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July.