WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Violence in Afghanistan is likely to rise as Spring comes, and the country remains the focus of U.S. national security strategy, said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday.
In a Washington press briefing, the top U.S. military officer said violence in many parts of Afghanistan will likely be worse in 2011 than it was in 2010.
"We must prepare ourselves for more violence and more casualties in coming months," the chairman said. The year 2010 is the deadliest year for coalition forces. Independent count put coalition deaths there over 700, and U.S. deaths near 500, nearly a third of the ten-year war.
Despite the grim outlook, Mullen touted President Barack Obama' s strategy in Afghanistan, particularly on the security side, noting the numbers of U.S. troops and civilians, allied trainers and combat forces, Afghan army and police trainees all increased in 2010.
Mullen said he was somewhat surprised at seeing increased security around Kandahar, the southern stronghold of Taliban. He said now is time to press the advantages gained in Afghanistan and to redouble efforts as "gains we have made are tenuous and fragile, and can be lost."
Obama's strategy in Afghanistan revolves around the deployment of 30,000 additional troops. In releasing the administration's review of his war strategy late last year, Obama said he was committed to the beginning of U.S. troops drawdown in July, 2011, but noted for the gains to be sustained over time, "there is an urgent need for political and economic progress in Afghanistan."
With U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan set to start decreasing in July and given the goal of fully transferring security to Afghan forces by 2014, the United States must continue to build a strategic partnership with Afghanistan, said Mullen.
U.S. committed to 2011 withdrawal of troops: military official
KABUL, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- A top U.S. military official said here on Friday that his country is committed to starting drawdown troops from post-Taliban Afghanistan.
"We remain committed to beginning the withdrawal of American forces in July 2011, with the goal endorsed by NATO in Lisbon Summit of being able to fully transit security responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014," Admiral Mike Mullen, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters in a joint press conference with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry. Full story
U.S. names Frank Ruggiero as new Af-Pak special envoy
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Frank Ruggiero has taken over as the acting special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan following the death of Richard Holbrooke on Monday evening, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.
"He will lead the SRAP (special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan) structure that Richard Holbrooke constructed and will really serve as one of his, you know, finest legacies, assisted by two deputies, Dan Feldman and Vikram Singh," U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said at a press briefing. Full story
Special Report: Afghanistan Situation