Joint Chiefs of Staff chair speaks with ABC7

August 11, 2009 7:16:09 PM PDT
In Afghanistan, the election is just more than a week away. The Taliban is striking with deadly results-- and it may get much worse. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sat down and spoke with abc7 about the challenges ahead.

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Three more American casualties in Afghanistan overnight follow the deadliest month since the 2001 invasion began. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, says Americans must prepare for an escalation of Taliban assaults.

"Tragically, as we add more forces, we are going to see a higher level of violence and the result is, some of those losses," said Admiral Mullen.

The general in charge on the ground in Afghanistan is due soon, and will call for more troops. Many military experts are speculating that General McChrystal will call for more troops in Afghanistan -- 10,000 is a frequently quoted number, but it ranges all the way up to 45,000.

"I recognize there are a lot of numbers out there right now, the point is general McChrystal has made no decision, has made no recommendations and there are none with regards to troops right now and I recognize the significance of that," said Admiral Mullen

Admiral Mullen was at the Naval Postgraduate School to be inducted into the NPS Hall of Fame. He is the 11th person to receive that honor.

The ceremony lasted an hour and a half and during his talk to at the NPS, Admiral Mullen says Afghanistan is his top priority.

"I have a great sense of urgency about this right now. We have to turn it around 12-18 months we have to turning this insurgency around," said Admiral Mullen

The chairman does not see any reason why the August 20th election in Afghanistan would be postponed, and says the threat against some 1,000 polling places has been reduced.

"Those estimates are down in the several hundred, below 500 now in the last couple of weeks, so we're very focused on security and having as many polling places open as possible," he said.

Admiral Mullen wouldn't estimate how long combat forces would be needed in Afghanistan, but says the United States must make a long term commitment to the region.

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