US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen painted a disturbing picture on Tuesday, bluntly telling US troops at Ft. Campbell, Ky. - including some bound for Afghanistan - that "we are not winning, which means we are losing and as we are losing, the message traffic out there to insurgency recruits keeps getting better and better and more keep coming."
The infusion will bring to 100,000 the number of US troops in Afghanistan, the largest expansion of the war since it began.
US President Barack Obama's plan envisions a burst of soldiers and Marines sent in to tamp down violence, then hand off the mission to the Afghans.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, meanwhile, said that "we are here to win." Gates went on to say that the United States and Afghanistan are trying to address the problem of low recruitment and high attrition among Afghan forces by increasing pay and other incentives. Gates said the biggest challenge is that in many cases, Taliban fighters earn more money than Afghan police officers.
Gates also said the US is prepared to work more closely with Pakistan as soon as the government there expresses a willingness to do so.
"The more they get attacked internally . . . the more open they may be to additional help from us. But we are prepared to expand that relationship at any pace they are prepared to accept," he said.
The drawdown of US forces in Iraq is supposed to liberate millions of pieces of equipment and thousands of troops.
Gates said there are about 3 million pieces of equipment in Iraq, and 2 million of them will be transferred or given to the Iraqis by September 2010. In some cases, he said, it will be less expensive for the US to buy new equipment for troops in Afghanistan than to try to move it from Iraq.