The nation's top military officer told Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. war in Afghanistan "probably needs more forces" and sought to reassure lawmakers skeptical of sending additional troops that commanders were devising new tactics that would lead to victory over a resurgent Taliban.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that 2,000 to 4,000 additional military trainers from the United States and its NATO partners will be needed to "jump-start" the expansion of Afghan security forces and strongly suggested that more U.S. combat troops will be required to provide security in the short term. "A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably needs more forces," Mullen said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, reports Washington Post.
Admiral Mullen, called before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify for his nomination to serve a second term as chairman, said that no specific request for more troops had yet been received from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
“But I do believe that — having heard his views and having great confidence in his leadership — a properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces, and, without question, more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance,” Admiral Mullen said.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has not yet decided whether to support a request from commanders in Kabul for more troops, should it be made. A group of about 4,000 trainers is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan by November, bringing the American troop level there to 68,000, New York Times reports.
According to Reuters, U.S. President Barack Obama faces key decisions in the coming weeks on the war in Afghanistan, where insurgent violence has reached its highest level since the Taliban was ousted from power in late 2001.
The Pentagon has received an assessment of the war from Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, which is widely expected to set the stage for a request for more troops within weeks.