Adm. Mullen vs Sen. Levin

by Michael Crowley | September 15, 2009

A friend following Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee sends over this exchange between Mullen and John McCain, who asked the general about Carl Levin's proposal to prioritize training of Afghan security forces over U.S. troop increases:

MCCAIN: Is there any reasonable scenarios, Admiral—a prospect that trained Afghan security forces can handle the bulk of the fighting over the near to medium term?

MULLEN: No, sir.

MCCAIN: If we followed such a course do you think the situation in Afghanistan would improve or get worse?

MULLEN: I think it would probably continue to deteriorate.

MCCAIN: Thank you. 

Mullen also said this morning that the new strategy devised by the top U.S. commander in the country, Stanley McChrystal, "probably means more [NATO] forces." 

I'm all for standing up the Afghans as fast as possible. But it does seem to me that McCain is right when he warns we were overly optimistic about how quickly the Iraqi security forces could operate on their own--something I touch on in my piece about troop levels for the current print issue of TNR, which is not yet online.

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