Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mullen Issues Caution on Afghanistan: NY Times

August 24, 2009

Mullen Issues Caution on Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that conditions in Afghanistan were "deteriorating," even as Afghans awaited results of their presidential election last week and as the new American commander in the region worked to complete a major progress assessment and perhaps to propose a further troop increase.

"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating," Adm. Mike Mullen said on CNN's "State of the Union," "and I've said that over the past couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated, in their tactics." Top American commanders have been making similar grim pronouncements for months, but Admiral Mullen's remark came amid the election, the strategy review by General Stanley McChrystal and a steady decline in American public support for the war. Recent polls show those opposing the war now slightly outnumber those favoring it.

Admiral Mullen, who as chairman is the nation's highest-ranking military officer, said that General McChrystal was still completing his review and had not yet requested additional troops on top of the 17,000 decided on earlier by President Obama. "His guidance from me and from the secretary of defense was to assess where you are and tell us what you need, and we'll get to that point," the admiral said.

A leading Republican voice on security matters, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said Sunday that he thought the general faced heavy pressure not to seek large numbers of additional troops, but he also said he did not think the pressure was coming from President Obama.

"I think there are great pressures on General McChrystal to reduce those estimates," the senator said on ABC's "This Week."

"I don't think it's necessarily from the president, I think it's from the people around him and others," Mr. McCain said. "But I have confidence that he will make his most honest and best recommendations."

Both the senator and Admiral Mullen said that they thought it important that serious signs of progress begin emerging in the next 12 to 18 months if the administration is to withstand public and congressional pressures to leave Afghanistan.

"I think you need to see a reversal of these very alarming and disturbing trends," said Mr.. McCain, who recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan.

The admiral counseled patience, noting on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "we're just getting the pieces in place of the president's new strategy."

"I don't see this as a mission of endless drift," he said. "We learned a lot of lessons from Iraq."

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!
Peter S. Lopez {aka:Peta}
Sacramento, California,Aztlan
Yahoo Email: 
Come Together! Join Up! Seize the Time!


No comments: