- WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The situation in Afghanistan is "serious and deteriorating," Washington's top military officer said on Sunday.
"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the past couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated in their tactics," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN.
Mullen worried over public support for Afghan war
- Associated Press -
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's top uniformed officer expressed concern Sunday about eroding public support for the war in Afghanistan and said the country remains vulnerable to being taken over again by extremist forces.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said President Barack Obama's new strategy for defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida was a work in progress as more U.S. troops are put in place.
In broadcast interviews, Adm. Mike Mullen wouldn't say whether more American forces troops would be needed. A large number of civilian experts is also required to help bring stability to Afghanistan's government and develop the economy.
The Obama administration is awaiting an assessment about the situation from the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. That report is expected in about two weeks.
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.
Mullen, a Vietnam veteran, said he's aware that public support for the war is critical. "Certainly the numbers are of concern," he said. But, he added, "this is the war we're in."
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.
The new strategy is intended to disrupt and defeat al-Qaida, the Taliban and its extremist allies. These forces have become much stronger and use safe havens in Pakistan to hide and plan attacks, he said.
"I recognize that we've been there over eight years," Mullen said. "This is the first time we've ever really resourced a strategy on the civilian and military side."