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Top soldier calls for changes in Afghanistan -

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Top soldier calls for changes in Afghanistan

The World Today - Thursday, 11 September , 2008 12:52:47

Reporter: John Shovelan

ELEANOR HALL: The United States' top military leaders have called for a new approach to the war in
Afghanistan which would involve closer cooperation with Pakistan.

Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, the Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and the
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen expressed grave concern about the
progress of the war. Admiral Mullen said he didn't believe US forces were winning.

From Washington, John Shovelan reports.

JOHN SHOVELAN: There's a new urgency in Washington about the situation in Afghanistan.

MIKE MULLEN: It is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever
achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan and frankly, we're running out of time.

JOHN SHOVELAN: In a remarkably sober assessment, Admiral Mullen told the hearing he is not
convinced the coalition is winning in Afghanistan although he qualified that by saying he is
convinced it can.

The change in emphasis reflects an increasing military commitment to Afghanistan and a decreasing
one in Iraq. Just yesterday President Bush announced that he would be sending an additional 4,500
troops - a decision made possible by the withdrawal of 8,000 troops from Iraq.

US commanders in Afghanistan have been seeking more troops to combat the resurgent Taliban and
foreign fighters that are finding haven along the border with Pakistan.

Last week Major General Jeffrey Schloesser who commands US forces in the east of Afghanistan said
he didn't have enough troops to hold ground after insurgents have initially been defeated.

JEFFREY SCHLOESSER: I've got a couple of areas here as I've mentioned, throughout RC East that I
have very low numbers of troops in and therefore I'm not able to really get good effects on the
ground. I can come in and I can clobber the enemy but then I can't hold it and stay with the

JOHN SHOVELAN: The chairman of the Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton wanted to know why
Afghanistan was still fighting for a greater share of US military resources.

IKE SKELTON: How is it that the commander in Iraq was given every resource needed to achieve his
goals and we're not doing the same for the Afghan commander?

JOHN SHOVELAN: Admiral Mullen says military power alone won't achieve victory in Afghanistan. He
says there must be more cooperation from the State Department and other government agencies and the
international community.

MIKE MULLEN: Afghanistan doesn't just need more boots on the ground, it needs more trucks on the
roads, teachers in schools, trained judges and lawyers in those courts, foreign investment,
alternative crops, sound governance, the rule of law.

These are the keys to success in Afghanistan. We cannot kill our way to victory and no armed force
anywhere, no matter how good, can deliver these keys alone.

JOHN SHOVELAN: Admiral Mullen says the US needs to revise its strategy to combat the safe havens
militants have along the border with Pakistan.

MIKE MULLEN: We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan, as I
watched personally us do during a day-long trip recently to the Korangal Valley, but until we work
more closely with the Pakistani Government to eliminate safe havens from which they operate, the
enemy will only keep coming.

JOHN SHOVELAN: The two defence chiefs wouldn't detail how many more troops could be sent to
Afghanistan next year beyond the 4,500 announced by the President. Commanders in Afghanistan have
repeatedly sought about 10,000 troops.

John Shovelan, Washington.