Army sends early team to Afghanistan

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Army sends early team to Afghanistan

Korea will send an advance team of Army forces to Afghanistan later this month, ahead of a main unit whose mission is to protect Korean aid workers in the war-torn country, a senior official said yesterday.

“An advance team of about 80 soldiers will be dispatched to Afghanistan in the middle of this month,” Deputy Defense Minister Chang Kwang-il told reporters on the sidelines of a security forum in Singapore.

Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who were set to meet later in the day at the forum, will exchange views on the South’s troop dispatch to Afghanistan, Chang said. Kim will brief Gates about Korea’s specific plans for the troop dispatch, he said.

South Korea launched a 320-member contingent, named “Ashena,” last month following parliamentary approval in February.

The main unit will be deployed in the northern Afghan province of Parwan in July along with Korea’s provincial reconstruction team (PRT), which will be comprised of about 100 construction workers and 40 police officers.

Meaning friend or colleague in Parwan’s vernacular language, Ashena will operate there until the end of 2012. Yonhap

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