Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:42 UK

US 'may need more Afghan troops'

US soldiers in Afghanistan
The admiral said a US victory was possible

The US may require more troops in Afghanistan despite almost doubling the size of its force there this year, its top military officer has said.

Adm Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee "a properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces".

He said that he did not know how many more troops were likely be requested.

Analysts say the remarks by the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman show more troops are needed to beat the Taliban.

The admiral said that was a decision to be taken by the commanding general in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, in the next few weeks.

The US currently has about 62,000 troops in Afghanistan and that figure is expected to rise to 68,000 by the end of the year. There were around 32,000 American troops in the country at the start of the year.

'Time and patience'

"Without question, [we need] more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance," Adm Mullen said.

Mike Mullen (Library)
I worry a great deal that the clock is moving very rapidly
Adm Mike Mullen

The admiral was speaking during a nomination hearing for his second term as President Barack Obama's senior military adviser.

But his prediction that more troops would be required was not universally welcomed.

The influential chairman of the panel, Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat, used the hearing to reiterate his opposition to more forces until the US has done more to expand Afghanistan's own armed forces.

But Adm Mullen insisted that "sending more trainers more quickly will give us a jump start - but only that".

"Quality training takes time and patience," he said.

He said that it was clear that more resources would be required if President Obama's revamped counterinsurgency strategy was to be properly implemented.

The admiral said that the US mission in Afghanistan required patience from the American public and members of Congress - especially among members of President Obama's Democratic Party who are becoming increasingly unnerved about the war.

A recent opinion poll showed that a narrow majority of Americans now oppose the conflict.

"We can get there. We can accomplish the mission we've been assigned," Adm Mullen said.

"But we will need resources matched to the strategy, civilian expertise matched to military capabilities, and the continued support of the American people."

The top Republican on the committee and former presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, said that committing too few forces to the war would invite a rerun of mistakes the US made in Iraq.

"I've seen that movie before," Mr McCain said.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific