Longtime military associates of Mullen, who currently serves as chief of naval operations for the U.S. Navy, said he is concerned that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are straining the U.S. fighting force and if he accepted as chairmen of the Joint Chiefs he would likely push for political solutions to the conflicts, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
"He's concerned the Army has been carrying the heavy load for some time," said retired U.S. Army Gen. William Kernan, the former supreme allied commander, Atlantic, who commanded Mullen in 2000. "He recognizes you can only stretch the rubber band so far."
Retired U.S. Navy Adm. Robert Natter, who attended the Naval Academy with Mullen, told the Post the admiral's Navy background would cause his decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan to be made from "a different perspective," with a greater focus on political dynamics. He described Mullen as a "realist."
"A realist would say this is as much a political issue solvable only by the Iraqis as it is a military force issue partially solvable by the U.S. military," Natter said to the newspaper.