VP Biden: Expect More US Casualties In Afghanistan

Jan 25, 2009 1:07pm

As the U.S. military under the Obama administration increases efforts in Afghanistan and the surrounding region, there will be more American casualties, Vice President Biden said this morning on CBS’ "Face the Nation."

"I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be," Biden said in response to a question from host Bob Schieffer. "There will be an uptick. Because as the commander in Afghanistan said, he said, ‘Joe, we will get this done, but we’re going to be engaging the enemy much more.’"

The Obama administration has "inherited a real mess," Biden said. "We’re about to go in and try to essentially reclaim territory that’s been effectively lost." The training of Afghan police and military personnel has been problematic, he said. "Some of our allies who have committed to train these troops did not do them well," Biden said.

Asked about the predator drone attacks in Pakistan, Biden said, "I can’t speak to any particular attack. I can’t speak to any particular action. It’s not appropriate for me to do that. But I can say that the president of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, of a high-level al Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that."

Would the Obama administration notify the Pakistani government before making any cross- border attacks?

"I always try to be completely candid with you, but I can’t respond to that question," Biden said. "I’m not going to respond to that question."

Asked how he sees his new role, especially in light of Vice President Cheney seeing himself, in Schieffer’s view, as "deputy president," Biden said, "I don’t see myself as the deputy president. I see myself as the president’s confidant. Hopefully I can help shape policy with him…Hopefully I’m the last person in the room with every important decision he makes."

That’s how it has worked so far, Biden said. "The agreement he and I have is that I would be available for every single major decision that he makes, in the room; I’d have all the paper, all the material, all the meetings — and, again, not for me to make decisions; for me to give the best advice that I can give."

"You are known for being candid, for talking, being unafraid to talk," Schieffer noted. "Is it harder now?"
"It is harder now," the vice president said. "It is — I’m really happy to be part of a team. But what I have to think about now is, everything I say, I am the vice president. I am not the president. I’m the vice president. So everything that I say reflects directly on the administration. And so I may have strongly held views that the president may not have. And they should be — that should be done between us, not for me to — but, yes, the bottom line, it’s harder."

- jpt

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