( dpa ) - US President George W Bush Friday tapped Army General David McKiernan as the new commander for NATO's international forces in Afghanistan.
If confirmed by the US Senate, McKiernan would relieve General Dan McNeill, who has headed the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since February.
McKiernan is currently serving as the commanding general of the US Army Europe and the 7th Army, and the US Army, NATO, in Germany, according to the press statement from the US Defence Department.
Earlier this week, Bush approved the deployment of 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan to meet a shortfall that US officials say was caused by the reluctance of NATO allies to send more troops to the war-torn country.
Bush approved the recommendation by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who has been mulling sending more troops there ahead of a possible offensive by the Taliban on the southern part of the country. NATO commanders have requested an additional 7,500 soldiers.
Gates caused a stir on Wednesday with a Los Angeles Times interview where he said that European forces were not well trained in counterinsurgency. He backtracked on Wednesday, saying he was not singling out countries in his remarks.
Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark have forces fighting alongside US troops in southern Afghanistan against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
In the new deployments, about 2,200 soldiers will be placed under ISAF command while 1,000 will operate under US command to assist in the training of Afghan security forces, the Pentagon said. Both groups are scheduled for a seven-month deployment after arriving in March or April.
There are already 26,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan, about half of them under NATO command. There are about 54,000 allied troops in the country in total.
Gates decided to proceed with the deployment even though last week he expressed concerns that doing so would take the pressure off NATO allies to play a greater role in Afghanistan.
Germany and France have deployed several thousand troops to Afghanistan, but restrict their use to peacekeeping roles in relatively safe areas of the country, while US, British, Dutch, Danish and Canadian forces take casualties in the heavy fighting against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in southern Afghanistan.