Mullen caps US troops to Afghanistan
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - No more than an estimated 30,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan as the United States ramps up forces there, the nation's top military officer told soldiers yesterday.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen also called US efforts in Iraq a success, even though "we're not done."
Mullen, speaking to fresh-faced soldiers and war-weary military wives, sought to boost morale and soothe concerns at the Army base that has seen a constant revolving door of troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last eight years.
"I don't see us growing a force well beyond the 20,000 to 30,000 for Afghanistan - American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines - beyond that 30,000 or so," Mullen told about 800 soldiers and specialists gathered for a town hall meeting.
He added: "It's got to be met with a commensurate surge from the other agencies, particularly the State Department, in order for us to start generating success in 2009."
Mullen's comments mark the first time he has capped the number of soldiers to be sent to Afghanistan amid some predictions that the United States will be there for at least a decade.
An estimated 33,000 US troops currently are in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon is set to announce at least three more brigades - about 16,000 soldiers - to be deployed in coming months. In all, the Pentagon said it expects to send about 60,000 US troops to Afghanistan.
By comparison, about 146,000 US troops have been sent to Iraq.