By Ian Graham
The mission in Afghanistan is of vital importance to the United States’ national security, but it’s a collaborative mission that requires international involvement, the U.S. military’s top officer said yesterday.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, spoke to reporters from around the world at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. about the state of American security and how it relates to the Obama administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan.
“Being successful in Afghanistan – winning – is not solely the responsibility of the U.S. military,” he said. “This is not that kind of war, not that kind of struggle. Success will come only by and through a concerted effort by other agencies and other partners. Ultimate success will be the cumulative effect of sustained pressure across multiple lines of operation.”
The war is a regional conflict, he said, and international cooperation is key to carrying out the mission. The commitment by NATO to provide 7,000 more European troops is a positive sign, as is progress by the Pakistani army in fighting the Taliban in their country.
He said the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is the epicenter of Islamic extremism – the planning, training, financing and leadership comes from there. He pointed to the recent bombings in Lahore, Baghdad and the Rawalpindi mosque as “grim reminders of the menace still before us, of the brutality still embraced by radical extremists.”
“That’s why we are so focused on [Afghanistan],” Mullen said. “That’s why we believe this mission is in our vital national security interest and those of our allies and friends. And that’s why we are grateful for the contributions of the other nations committed to the fight.”
“Their mission [is] to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, to degrade the Taliban’s influence, and to prevent Afghanistan or Pakistan from becoming safe havens is not merely about killing or capturing the enemy. It is also about protecting the Afghan people. It’s about earning their trust and learning their culture. At its core, it’s about providing breathing space for the Afghans to protect their own people and to stabilize their own country.”
Mullen said in addition to the increased military presence, an equivalent amount of civilians will deploy to the region – especially from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development – to help establish good governance, business and agricultural practices.
“We need more civilian expertise on the ground, particularly in agriculture, and our State Department is stepping up to meet that challenge. We need more contributions from our NATO allies, and I’m delighted by the news out of Brussels that some 7,000 more troops will be forthcoming. We need to see effort on the – by the Karzai government to make good on promised reforms,” he said.
To visit the Chairman’s Facebook page, click here.
To visit the Chairman’s Twitter account, click here.
To visit the Chairman’s Channel, click here.
To visit the Chairman’s Flickr account, click here.