The USA is preparing for the next phase of its military operation against Afghanistan. It is planning to send a considerable augmentation of ground forces to the Middle East and Central Asia, reported The Washington Post with reference to sources in the US Administration. According to the paper, the lifting of troops will begin next week and include, in particular, another thousand mountain riflemen from the 10th mountain division in addition to 1,000 soldiers from that division already stationed in Central Asia. Apart from that, the reinforcement of servicemen stationed on the territory of the USA and from American units currently serving in the peacemaking contingent in Bosnia and Kosovo will also be sent to the region. The paper writes with reference to unidentified officials that Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld signed the order on the additional transfer of troops last Friday. The troops to be transferred to the region will carry out different missions -- from strengthening Uzbekistan's border defences to flights to Afghanistan, the temporary holding of airports or cordoning off combed territories, said the official representatives. The paper writes that the commanders of the units that are getting ready for dispatch received an order that their mission will last about a year.