Pentagon assessing Af-Pak strategy to decide future action: Mullen

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Washington, Aug. 5 (ANI): US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has said the top Pentagon officials are reviewing Obama administration's new Af-Pak strategy to determine whether they will need to send even more troops to Afghanistan.

Mullen met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General Stanley McChrystal, who is preparing a formal assessment.

"He's (McChrystal) looking at assessing the president's strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What he's found is it's a very tough fight, probably tougher than he thought it would be. In the coming weeks, he will use that assessment to make recommendations to the president," Mullen said in an interview with NPR.

Mullen said that the American mission must shift to ensure the security of the Afghan people, and that will require more than troops. Mullen says it means more civilians are needed to build local governments and institutions.

"It would be city management kind of capacity, it would be agriculture capacity. We don't have yet the civilian capacity that we need, the numbers that we need, and we expect to generate a considerably larger number of them in the next several months," he said.

Mullen added that the Afghan-Taliban has proved to be unpredictable, and hence the US has had a tougher fight here.

"The Taliban has gotten much better, and we've seen that since 2006 - significant increases in capability and sophistication each year over the last three years, even a year in which they lost a lot of their leadership internally - 2007 - they came back the next year," he said.

Speaking on Obama administration's joint approach for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mullen said that the Taliban and al-Queda could not be eliminated by focusing on just one country.

"And the leadership of al-Qaida resides in Pakistan. But the reason that the strategy that the president has put together is Afghanistan and Pakistan is it's both countries - in fact, it's the region. I don't believe that we can get at al-Qaida by just focusing on one country or another," he said. (ANI)

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