Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen: Afghanistan to Need More U.S. Troops

Mullen expects a request from commanders to arrive "in the very near future."

ByABC News
September 15, 2009, 11:37 AM

Sept. 15, 2009— -- Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress today that it is "very clear" to him that more U.S. troops will be needed for the war in Afghanistan and that he expects a request from commanders to arrive "in the very near future."

Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee, he does not know how many more troops will be requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

But he said, "It's very clear to me we will need more resources to execute the president's strategy."

Mullen was asked later what he meant by near future and he said he expected McChrystal's submission for additional troops to be made "in the next couple of weeks."

Referring to McChrystal, Mullen told the committee, "I do believe that having heard his views and having confidence in his leadership, a properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces."

The admiral indicated he did not know what ratio of trainers versus combat troops McChrystal might request, but that a debate over the right mix of forces will be made once McChrystal makes a request. Mullen said he is awaiting McChrystal's troop submission to "look at the risks associated with the various options" he will present.

Having ordered the deployment of 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan earlier this year, the total U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan will reach 68,000 by the end of this year.

The debate within the administration on the need for more troops in Afghanistan will likely weigh the concerns expressed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates of the risks associated with a growing presence in Afghanistan, namely that the population turns begins to see the U.S. as an occupying force.