Saturday, Jan 31, 2009
Admiral Michael Mullen, the most senior American military officer, said the U.S. will probably deploy close to 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to shore up deteriorating security there.
In an interview, Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, also said he is hopeful that other NATO nations will contribute additional military and civilian resources this year to the fight against a resurgent Taliban. The Islamist militia, which once ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al-Qaeda, is threatening large areas of the country with mounting attacks.
Mullen said the new resources are needed to buy time for a broad, long-term buildup of Afghan security forces that will allow the U.S. to “put an Afghan face” on the effort and dispel perceptions of a foreign occupation.
“It’s fine for me to say this isn’t an occupation,” Mullen told Bloomberg editors and reporters yesterday. “But it’s important that the people of Afghanistan don’t think it’s an occupation.”
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Mullen, 62, has said in recent weeks that the U.S. will probably send between 20,000 and 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in response to a request from Army General David McKiernan, the American commander there. Yesterday, he said he anticipates the final level will “tend toward the higher number of those two” figures.
“I believe it’s not going well,” Mullen said of the Afghan conflict, “which is one of the reasons it’s important that we get these forces moving.”
This article was posted: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 5:26 am