Mullen offers dim view of Afghanistan

Aug. 26, 2009 at 9:42 AM
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BOSTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The top U.S. military official offered a dim review on Afghanistan, saying years of neglect means the United States is "starting over" in battling militants.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said the U.S. operation needs between a year and 18 months "to turn this thing around," The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

"This is the eighth year, but there is a newness here,'' Mullen told the Globe during an interview in Boston. "There is a starting again, or starting over. Iraq has been the focus. It hasn't been Afghanistan.''

While the United States concentrated troops in Iraq, Mullen said, the Taliban's ties with Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders suspected of hiding in neighboring Pakistan, became stronger.

Mullen said he is waiting for a new assessment by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, before determining whether more U.S. troops are needed to confront Taliban insurgents.

At the very least, more specialists would be needed to train Afghan security forces, Mullen told the Globe.

"We all believe there is going to be a need to accelerate the training of the Afghanistan security forces, army and police, and that is going to take additional trainers,'' he said.

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