U.S. TROOP LEVELS IN AFGHANISTAN MAY RISE TO 60,000, SAYS CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF MIKE MULLEN, IN A "60 MINUTES" PROFILE SUNDAY ON CBS
U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan could rise to as high as 60,000 over the next 12 to 18 months, says Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen. The war in Afghanistan is one of several topics Mullen discusses with CBS News Correspondent David Martin in a profile to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Jan. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Mullen recently visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan and told them reinforcements are forthcoming. "I talked yesterday about a range between 20,000 and 30,000," he tells Martin. With the current level at 32,000, that would mean as many as 60,000 troops could be stationed in Afghanistan. "We could [have that many]," says Mullen.
The U.S. needs the extra troops in Afghanistan because it's not winning the war there, according to Mullen, who has said so in public. "I said it because I believed it and I still believe it and I think it represented exactly where we are," Mullen says. Commanders on the ground don't disagree with him on this issue, says Mullen. "I think the level of violence in 2008 surprised us all. The sophistication of the tactics of the insurgency surprised us all."
President-elect Obama has supported U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan throughout his campaign. Mullen, the only new national security team member not picked by Obama, has already had a one-on-one talk with the president-elect some weeks ago in Chicago, noting, "I thought he was very focused, he knew what he wanted to talk about."
Obama intends to draw down troops in Iraq and, in effect, end the war there. During the eight days that 60 MINUTES followed him, Mullen went to Iraq, where he said to Martin, "A responsible ending is, I think a very, very possible outcome, given what I've seen transpire over the last couple of years and literally what I saw today walking the streets of Samarra."