News / USA

Mullen Calls Building Af-Pak Expertise Top Priority

Al Pessin

The top U.S. military officer says building a corps of experienced military experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan is his top priority, in order to quickly reverse the deteriorating security situations in those countries. 

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has been working for months to create a group of more than 700 officers and senior enlisted troops who will focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan for several years.  On Friday, speaking to officers studying at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Mullen said of all the national security concerns he must balance, that is number one.

"This is my top priority right now," said Admiral Mullen. "I am losing people almost every day in a fight.  There should be nothing that's more important, quite frankly."

Admiral Mullen says with tens of thousands of troops in harm's way in Afghanistan, the need for a specialized corps of people who know the region and cycle in and out of assignments there is crucial.  And when those people are stationed in the United States, he wants them to remain focused on the region, supporting their counterparts who are deployed.

President Barack Obama's revised Afghanistan strategy calls for a rapid infusion of troops and a change in approach, with the goal of at least beginning to reverse extremist gains by the end of this year.  Admiral Mullen says that means he needs people who won't need months of pre-deployment training and more months after they arrive to understand the situation.

"Time is a real critical factor in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said. "And I need people whose ramp-up time going into these two countries is absolutely minimal.  That's language, that's culture, that's previous tours and experience."

The admiral's Afghanistan-Pakistan team is already working on both sides of the world, and it's growing.  In an official guidance statement for the coming year, issued in December, Admiral Mullen lists pursuing the Afghanistan campaign as his top priority.  He says, "We must continue to put our best talent forward and into the fight."  He says he is willing to accept gaps in his own staff if those people are needed for the Afghanistan-Pakistan team, and he urges other senior officers to do the same.

The admiral also acknowledges that sustaining his effort will not be easy, in part because it requires a different mix of skills and experience than have traditionally been valued by the military services, particularly when they decide who gets promoted to higher ranks.  These pepole need to be experts in language, culture, local politics and broad military strategy, rather than traditional skills like battlefield tactics or naval maneuvers.

"We've got to promote those kinds people, and we've got to have people and leaders that recognize that," said Admiral Mullen. "This is a completely different way of doing business than how we've done things in the past.  And I don't have a lot of time, as I indicated.  The clock's ticking.  So I need people that have the experience, that aren't going to take much time coming back up to speed, and that are delivering on the mission immediately."

Admiral Mullen also says several Pentagon organizations that support the Afghanistan war and efforts to help Pakistan deal with its extremists will continue to operate in 2010.  But even with those efforts his guidance document urges more focus, saying "far too many of our daily practices do not match the speed of the war."   
 

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More