Joint Chiefs Chairman Visits Base

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
San Diego Union-Tribune
February 20, 2008 By Rick Rogers, Staff Writer
CAMP PENDLETON – The Marine Corps' upcoming combat surge in Afghanistan is a one-time move – at least for the moment, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday during a stop at Camp Pendleton.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen visited the base for the first time since becoming President Bush's top military adviser in October. Mullen toured a high-tech combat infantry course and met with wounded Marines before talking about the Corps' next assignment in Afghanistan.
“It really is a one-time mission right now,” Mullen said of the anticipated spring deployment of 3,200 Marines, including about 1,000 from the Twentynine Palms base.
The possibility of sending more Marines to Afghanistan will be reconsidered later this year, he added.
Mullen is traveling to various NATO countries, asking their leaders to contribute a total of 7,500 more troops for combat and security missions in Afghanistan. Yesterday, he urged those officials to “come together” to repel insurgents in the short term and train military and police forces in the long run.
Mullen said the consequences of allowing Afghanistan to slip back into the hands of the Taliban would be significant.
“The fight is going to be a struggle, and it's going to last for a while,” said Mullen, 61.
Since becoming the Joint Chiefs chairman, Mullen has met with an array of military commanders – including those at Camp Pendleton yesterday.
Mullen said Marine and Army commanders are noting “considerable stress in the force” arising from repeated combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan started in 2001, and the one in Iraq began nearly five years ago.
Recent reports show a jump in suicide rates for the Army and Marine Corps, while the latest studies continue to show rising numbers of troops suffering from combat stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mullen also said Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made it his top priority to send more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to Iraq. A recent report said mismanagement by the Marine Corps kept many of the trucks from getting to troops in Iraq, causing hundreds of Marines to die unnecessarily from roadside bombs.
The alleged mismanagement stems from the Corps' denial of a request in 2005 for 1,169 of the vehicles, which are better than Humvees at protecting service members from improvised explosive devices.
“I'm not sure we should be spending a lot of time on what happened in 2005,” Mullen said when asked for his thoughts on the denial.