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Mullen says troops being sent to blunt insurgency

Posted December 7, 2009

— The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the insurgency in Afghanistan has grown for the past three years and that sending 30,000 U.S. troops in response is an attempt to blunt that momentum.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke to approximately 1,000 Marines at Camp Lejeune on Monday. Many of those who listened to his talk will be sent to Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama's plan announced last week.

Camp Lejeune troops headed to Afghanistan Camp Lejeune troops headed to Afghanistan

Camp Lejeune will supply 1,500 Marines by Christmas, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman announced Monday. An additional 6,200 from Lejeune and Camp Pendleton in California are to follow by the end of spring.

The Lejeune Marines and sailors from II Marine Expeditionary Force are part of the first wave of about 16,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to the war zone

Mullen told the audience that military leaders believe they have between 18 and 24 months to reverse the insurgency or it might not be possible.

When asked by a Marine if he thought the boost of 30,000 additional troops was enough, he said, "Yes."

"You can't forget there are 42 other countries in Afghanistan with combat forces with us," Mullen said. "This isn't just the United States."

Earlier in the day, day, Mullen told soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., that he did expect casualties to rise next year.

"This is what happened in Iraq during the surge and as tragic as it is, to turn this thing around, it will be a part of this surge as well," he said. "I expect a tough fight in 2010."

Obama announced last week his plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, saying the new policy was designed to "bring this war to a successful conclusion."

Mullen told troops their mission has two crucial elements: to ensure the safety of local civilians and to train Afghan security forces to take over as soon as possible.

The Lejeune Marines and sailors from II Marine Expeditionary Force are part of the first wave of about 16,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to the war zone

The group consists of Marines heading over for the first time, as well as those who have already been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I've been training pretty much my whole life for this, and a lot of the guys in my unit really wanted to get an opportunity to go over there and make a difference," Sgt. Derek MacPherson.

The Army will also begin sending in the first of its forces – a training brigade from Fort Drum, N.Y. Whitman said about 4,100 support forces from various places will also deploy early.

Among those units scheduled for deployment are:

  • 2nd Marine Regiment Headquarters, 2nd Marine Division
  • 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division
  • 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division
  • 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division
  • Company A, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
  • Company B, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
  • Company D, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division
  • Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
  • 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
  • Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group
  • Combat Logistics Company 16, 2nd Marine Logistics Group
  • Detachment, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group

The latest troop surge marks the second Obama has added to the American force in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has recently made significant advances.

When he became president last January, there were roughly 34,000 troops on the ground; there now are 71,000.

The United States went to war in Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States.

Osama bin Laden and key members of the terrorist organization were headquartered in Afghanistan at the time, taking advantage of sanctuary afforded by the Taliban government that ran the mountainous and isolated country.

Taliban forces were quickly driven from power, while bin Laden and his top deputies were believed to have fled through towering mountains into neighboring Pakistan.

While the al-Qaida leadership appears to be bottled up in Pakistan's largely ungoverned tribal regions, the U.S. military strategy of targeted missile attacks from unmanned drone aircraft has yet to flush bin Laden and his cohorts from hiding.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that Americans should expect a significant U.S. military presence in Afghanistan for two years to four years more.

Just as in Iraq, the U.S. eventually will turn over provinces to local security forces, allowing the U.S. to bring the number of troops down steadily, according to Gates, who appeared on three Sunday talk shows with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss Obama's new Afghan war plan.

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  • Big Mike Dec 7, 2009

    Blunt? Blunt?...What a joke!

    Having been a US Army combat soldier in Vietnam, I can tell you first hand....Blunting doesn't work!..We either go and kick some rear, and take no prisoners....or stay the heck home....God, I hate this war.

    It still never makes any sense to me how people who have never faced death on the battlefield can send young men and women to their potenial deaths thinking they are making the right decision.

    God Bless our Troops!

  • 5-113 FA Retired Dec 7, 2009

    Worland and MitziGaynor

    How can you and your Glenn Becker backers criticize me for being just like your boy bush. I do what I want with no regrets, when I want and do not care what the majority thinks.

  • Worland Dec 7, 2009

    Obama has already declared defeat in 18 months. In the mean time, over 1000 US troops will needlessly die before we leave. That 18 months gives Obama a chance to blame the failure on Karzai (who did the unthinkable and won the Afghan election in spite of Obama's blatant efforts to make him lose). The war is over... we just have to lose another 1000 troops before Obama can save his reputation...

  • nascarguy Dec 7, 2009

    I find it funny how Obama passionately fought against the Iraq surge - which worked - and now he's using our strategy in Iraq as a guide to fight the war in Afghanistan. This is what General Petraeus said.

    Nonetheless, thank you President Obama, this is the change us conservatives can count on.

  • MitziGaynor Dec 7, 2009

    gsmith275492: i'd be careful it is now against the law in NC (and stupid) to be texting and driving! But hey, as long as it's a Bush Bash I guess you also feel you are above the law like this whole administration.

  • gandalla Dec 7, 2009

    Quagmire says "If he waited until after XMAS the republicans would be whining about that too."

    Good point the republicans cant stand the fact that the Iraq War is going to end on Obamas watch and he is going to be able to decalre mission accomplished and it really be over, unlike bush who declared it about 8 years to soon.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Dec 7, 2009

    And before you English majors take "pot" shots at my typos, my typing is a little rusty above 65 MPH but I'm improving.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 7, 2009

    Quagmire says "If he waited until after XMAS the republicans would be whining about that too."

    Exactly, to some of these posters Obama can do no right. If he wouldn't of sent troops they complain, and when he does they complain. I'm sick of it, we need to put country before politics, let the president do his job! If you don't like what he does, vote him out in 2012.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Dec 7, 2009

    Dear idiots,

    What are you smokin'?? Did you already farget it was yo9ur three stooges (bush, cheney and rumsfried) that put our soldiers there in the first place? And they did all that with NO endorsement from anyone over the age of 12. It's so laughable to read your comments like it was Obama declared war yesterday. He's got a royal mess to clean up after 8 years of indecision.

  • momofmen Dec 7, 2009

    I love all the comments about these young men and women being taking from their families so close to Christmas. HELLO... since when does war give a flip about the date on the calendar? As a former military spouse and current mom of two US Marines-it is a fact of military life that war has its own schedule. Sure it is awful that they aren't able to stay at home another week or two longer to celebrate the holidays with their families. But ask anyone of these brave people if they enlisted with the assumption that they would never be deployed over a holiday, birthday, anniversary, birth, death etc. It comes with the enlistment and I am very thankful that our military is willing to do whatever it takes WHENEVER it is needed. God bless and protect them all!

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