Washington, D.C., December 9, 2009 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Voice of America (VOA) that the U.S. military will know by mid-2011 whether the new strategy for Afghanistan, including a large troop buildup, is "going to succeed or not."
Admiral Mike Mullen, in an exclusive interview with VOA's Afghanistan Service on Tuesday, said July 2011 – the date President Obama gave to begin transitioning U.S. troops out of Afghanistan – was not picked arbitrarily.
"The July 2011 date was very specifically selected … if we don't know at that point if this is going to succeed or not, then we have to change strategy," Mullen said. "I believe we'll know whether this is going to succeed or not by mid-2011."
Mullen also said his message to U.S. troops deploying to Afghanistan is that they should plan military operations so as to avoid civilian casualties.
"They (U.S. troops) can have tactical success, but every time you kill an Afghan civilian – man, woman, or child – you have a strategic failure," he said, adding, "You can pile up all these tactical successes, but you're also piling up strategic failure and eventually your mission fails."
Mullen said Obama made the right decision agreeing to deploy an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to join some 68,000 U.S. and NATO troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
"From a security standpoint, I believe it's the right answer to reverse the momentum, to go from what has been (in) the last few years a security situation which has been rapidly deteriorating," he said.
But he said the United States expects Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government to follow through on promises to end widespread corruption, improve national and local governance and assume security functions as soon as possible.
Mullen praised the Afghan military, saying, "Afghan soldiers are like American soldiers … they love their country a lot, they want it to be secure, and there are many Afghan soldiers and police who are dying for their country."
VOA's Afghanistan Service broadcasts 12 hours of radio programming in Dari, Pashto and Special English daily. The service also airs two 30-minute television newscasts, six days a week in both Dari and Pashto, reaching audiences in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States. VOA is the leading U.S. international broadcaster.
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