'This Week' Transcript: Adm. Mike Mullen


MULLEN: We knew this year would be a particularly difficult year because of all the added troops that we put in, among other things. And it has been. And I would expect next year to be a very difficult year, as well.

That said, the -- the security situation has started to change. It has started to get better -- better. We've sacrificed greatly, tragic losses, far too many always, but we've also succeeded in starting to reverse the momentum. I think General Petraeus calls it we've arrested the momentum in some specific places...

AMANPOUR: But he said it's not irreversible.

MULLEN: No, it isn't irreversible, and it's still fragile. That's really where we are right now in this fight.

AMANPOUR: So, given that fact, as you put it, what is the relationship with President Karzai, which seems to be basically all over the place on any given day? What does he say now about night raids?

MULLEN: Well, he's -- I think, obviously, most recently, he's spoken to his concerns about that. The piece that you ran earlier speaks to a huge issue, which is the issue of civilian casualties, but it also speaks to a point that was -- is oftentimes not clearly articulated, which is the Taliban are killing about 9 or 10 times more civilians than -- than our forces are. And we are making extraordinary efforts to make sure that doesn't happen.

We recognize President Karzai's concern with respect to night raids and some of the other concerns that he has, and we are doing all we can. There has to be a balance here, very specifically.

AMANPOUR: Let me move quickly over to Yemen. Al Qaida brazenly puts out a statement today, yesterday saying that this is our tactic, bombs that cost $4,000-plus, a raid against all your multibillions of security in counterterrorism. Are they going to succeed with one of these cargo plane bombs?

MULLEN: Well, there's an awful lot of effort going on to make sure that they don't. And...

AMANPOUR: Doesn't that worry you?

MULLEN: You bet it worries me. And I give credit to a lot of people to -- at this point in time that -- that they haven't been able to pull something like this off, because it's a very serious threat, and I believe what they are saying. They've grown, it's dangerous, and it's a place we need to focus.

AMANPOUR: "Don't ask/don't tell," something that's hugely important right now. A draft report has come to you; some 70 percent of the military say that it will either have a beneficial or nonexistent effect. Do you think it needs to be voted on in this lame-duck session?

MULLEN: Well, I won't speak to what the draft report says. We'll have this report done here...

AMANPOUR: Do you think...

MULLEN: ... and to Secretary Gates in the next couple of weeks, by December 1st, and I won't make any comments on where I think we need to go until that report is done.

AMANPOUR: You support it, though, repealing "don't ask/don't tell"?

MULLEN: From my personal perspective, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: Because?

MULLEN: Because I think it -- it belies us as an institution. We value integrity as an institution.

AMANPOUR: You mean forcing them to lie about what they are?

MULLEN: And then -- and then asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institution.

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