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Aug 23rd, 2009


Obama Faces Hard Choices on Afghan War Plans

Situation ‘serious and deteriorating,’ says Joint Chiefs chairman

Video

Is support for Afghan war shrinking? (NBC Meet the Press, Aug. 23, 2009) – Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says polling data concerns him, but the threat from al-Qaida and its Taliban allies is real. Adm. Mullen discusses President Barack Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan with NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press. (03:26)


Aug. 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – As public support for the Afghanistan war erodes, President Barack Obama is faced with two equally unattractive choices: increase U.S. troops levels to beat back a resilient enemy, or stick with the 68,000 already committed and risk the political fallout if that’s not enough. …

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation in Afghanistan as “serious and deteriorating,” but refused to say whether additional forces would be needed.

“Afghanistan is very vulnerable in terms of (the) Taliban and extremists taking over again, and I don’t think that threat’s going to go away,” Mullen said Sunday.

Concern about diminishing support

Mullen also expressed concern about diminishing support among a war-weary American public as the U.S. and NATO enter their ninth year of combat and reconstruction operations. …

Mullen said President Obama’s strategy for defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida is a work in progress as more U.S. troops are put in place, Mullen said. But the security situation in Afghanistan needs to be reversed in the next 12 month to 18 months, he added.

“I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I’ve said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated,” Mullen said.

Just over 50 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this past week said the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting. …

‘We’re just getting the pieces in place’

Three years ago, the U.S. had about 20,000 forces in the country. Today, it has triple that, on the way to 68,000 by year’s end when all the extra 17,000 troops that Obama announced in March are to be in place. An additional 4,000 troops are arriving to help train Afghan forces. [Update: This number does not include the 30,000 "surge" troops President Obama committed in 2010.]

“I recognize that we’ve been there over eight years,” he said. “But this is the first time we’ve really resourced a strategy on both the civilian and military sides. So in certain ways, we’re starting anew.”

“We’re just getting the pieces in place from the president’s new strategy on the ground now,” he said. “I don’t see this a mission of endless drift. I think we know what to do.” …

Mullen … appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” …

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Related report on this site

Afghan War ‘Not Worth Fighting’ (Aug. 20, 2009)

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Washington Man Becomes Army’s Oldest Afghanistan Casualty


1st Sgt. Jose Crisostomo

KING 5 News (Seattle)
Aug. 21, 2009

SPANAWAY, Wash. – A Spanaway grandfather is the latest casualty of war from Washington state.

Fifty-nine-year-old First Sergeant Jose Crisostomo was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb Tuesday. He is believed to be the oldest U.S. soldier to die in Afghanistan. …

During a 24-year military career he served in Vietnam and Kuwait before retiring from the military in 1993.

After 9/11, Crisostomo decided to re-enlist in the U.S. Army.

“He insisted going back and serving his country,” said Crisostomos wife of 39 years, Patricia.

“That was his passion, his life,” said Patricia, who met her husband on their native Guam. …

Crisostomo is survived by his wife, four children and 10 grandchildren.

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Related report on this site

Oldest soldier killed in Iraq (scroll down)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — August 23, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 40


At the end of the first day’s walk, Patrick (2) runs to meet his mom after riding in his stroller down Division Street from downtown St. Cloud to Waite Park.

One year ago today, on the 40th day of my campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination as House of Representatives candidate in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I continued my 50-mile walking tour across the Sixth District from Waite Park to Rockville, Cold Spring, Richmond, and Roscoe, stopping by the Rockvile Rock-Fest festival and parade.

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4 Responses to “Afghan War: Obama’s Hard Choices”
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