(CNN) - Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking man in the U.S. military, said the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, as fresh indications emerge that President Obama soon could be asked to commit more American troops.
"I think it is serious and it is deteriorating. And I've said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated. Their tactics, just in my recent visits out there and talking with our troops, certainly indicate that," Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Obama has called the situation in Afghanistan a "war of necessity," and senior U.S. military officials said the latest military assessment shows that the Taliban exert "considerable influence" over a third of the country's landmass. But in the United States, support for the Afghanistan war is at an all-time low, according to CNN polling released this month.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, has been conducting an assessment of the progress of Obama's mission there. McChrystal is expected to present his review in the coming weeks.
Asked if the president is concerned there might not be enough troops on the ground, White House spokesman Bill Burton said that Obama laid out a "winning strategy" earlier this year and that the administration would wait for McChrystal's assessment and "make a decision accordingly."
The Pentagon has said no decision has been made regarding whether McChrystal will ask for more troops, but members of a congressional delegation who met with him said there's no doubt he will.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The bloody attacks in Iraq last week have raised concerns over a renewal sectarian violence, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday.
Interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union," Adm. Mike Mullen said he is "extremely concerned" about recent bombings. More than 100 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in a series of truck bombings in Baghdad on August 19.
It was was the deadliest day since the United States pulled its combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns nearly two months ago and left security in the hands of the Iraqis. And it raised fears of a renewal of destabilizing Sunni-Shiite violence that raged a few years ago in Iraq.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A top military adviser to President Obama is deferring comment on the political or longer-term strategic implications of the recent release of the only man convicted of bombing Pan Am flight 103. But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his personal displeasure Sunday at the release.
“Just personally, I was appalled by the decision,” to release Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, Mullen told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on CNN’s State of the Union.
Asked whether al Megrahi’s release and the celebratory welcome he received upon returning to Libya might impact any proposed sales of military hardware by the Pentagon to the Middle Eastern country, Mullen responded “well, we’ll deal with those down the road. That’s just where I am right now.”
Asked about the message sent by decision of Scottish authorities to release al Megrahi, Mullen also said Sunday that the release “was obviously a political decision which is out of my lane.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, Wednesday kicked off a new push to convince Americans that the president should repeal "don't ask, don't tell" - the policy that prevents openly gay troops from serving in the U.S. military.
Murphy, D-Pennsylvania, appeared along with several gay, lesbian and straight service members to launch the initiative.
"We can not afford to wait any longer" for the repeal of "don't ask don't tell," Murphy said at an event at the National Press Club in Washington. "Now is the time to change this, when our military is stretched so thin" with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A "Voices of Honor" tour, sponsored by The Human Rights Campaign, will travel across the country sharing stories of gay, lesbian and straight service men and women in hope of garnering support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal the law that established the policy and allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly in the military.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued a statement saying, "We must repeal this discriminatory policy and ensure that our military can recruit and retain the best and the brightest troops regardless of their sexual orientation."
President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to repeal the law, but gay rights groups have been angered that the president has not done more to hasten the change.
“Certainly there are possibilities there,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. But Mullen added, “I haven’t seen any indications of that in recent days. The seven missiles which the leadership [of North Korea] fired yesterday basically into the sea – similar to what they did in 2006 – those were violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
“They continue to thumb their nose at the international community,” Mullen added. “And I think the international community – which has been bound very tightly together to include Russia and China - and putting additional pressure on North Korea that needs to continue and those sanctions need to be enforced.”
On Iraq, Adm. Mullen rejected the suggestion that Iraqis celebrating in the streets earlier this week - as the U.S. met a deadline to pull out of major cities - was a sign that citizens of the war-torn country did not appreciate American sacrifices to establish peace and stability in the country.
“I know from my engagement with Prime Minister Maliki as well as the rest of the political and military leadership in Iraq, they’re very appreciative of everything that we have done,” Mullen told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
Updated: 4:40 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is committed to providing enough additional troops in Afghanistan, one of President Obama’s senior military advisers says.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he, Obama, and retired Gen. Jim Jones, Obama’s National Security Adviser are all in agreement.
“Gen. Jones, and I, and the president, are all on the same page in terms of what we have to do now,” Mullen told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “President Obama has committed these troops. They’re arriving as we speak and will through the rest of this year.”
Mullen added that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, is conducting a 60-day assessment to determine whether he has sufficient boots on the ground or whether he needs more troops on top of the additional 21,000 the Obama administration recently authorized.
Mullen also expressed optimism about the situation in Iraq where U.S. troops recently pulled back from Iraq’s major cities under an agreement signed by former President George W. Bush.
“I’m really encouraged based on what I see,” Mullen said.
Mullen added that he thought the military was on track to complete a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, also under the terms of an agreement with Iraq’s government.
Updated: 3:21 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. military has between 12 and 18 months to show whether the war in Afghanistan will be a success, and it may have to be done with fewer troops than in Iraq, according to the top men at the Pentagon.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday, he does not underestimate the challenge in Afghanistan, but is positive they are moving in the right direction in defeating the Taliban and insurgent forces.
"We've got to reverse of trend of violence over the next 12 to 18 months, and I think it's possible," Mullen said.
"We have the strategy right, we're resourcing it right," he said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke alongside Mullen at the hearing and warned the conflict would not be over in 18 months, but hoped to at least see a shift in the momentum.
(CNN) - Iran likely has enough material to make a nuclear weapon, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told CNN's John King Sunday.
“We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen said on State of The Union with John King. "Iran having a nuclear weapon, I believe, for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world."
Tehran has denied pursuing nuclear weapons, and insists the country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Mullen also said he is watching North Korea closely, although he also said he and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have yet to make a recommendation on how to approach that country.
Earlier: N. Korea: Ready to launch satellite
"There has been no recommendations one way or another," he said. "There's a lot of focus on this and then recommendations and certainly policy discussions will come based on the timing and what North Korea does."