By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mullen worries about troop withdrawal timeline
Placeholder Image
      WASHINGTON — A fixed timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq could jeopardize political and economic progress, the Pentagon’s top military officer said Sunday.
    Adm. Mike Mullen said the agreement between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to set a ‘‘general time horizon’’ for bringing more troops home from the war was a sign of ‘‘healthy negotiations for a burgeoning democracy.’’
    The best way to determine troops levels, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said, is to assess the conditions on the ground and to consult with American commanders.
    The prime minister was quoted by a German magazine over the weekend as saying U.S. troops should leave ‘‘as soon as possible’’ and he called Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s suggestion of 16 months ‘‘the right timeframe for a withdrawal.’’
    Mullen, asked about the possibility of withdrawing all combat troops within two years, said, ‘‘I think the consequences could be very dangerous.’’
    The military buildup in Iraq that began more than 18 months ago has ended. In recent days, the last of the five additional combat brigades sent in by Bush last year has left the country.
    If conditions keep improving, ‘‘I would look to be able to make recommendations to President Bush in the fall to continue those reductions,’’ Mullen said.
    Turning attention to Afghanistan, where violence is on the rise from Taliban attacks, Mullen said expressed concern about ‘‘a syndication of various extremists and terrorist groups’’ in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border that poses a serious threat to both countries.
    He cited ‘‘mixed progress’’ in Afghanistan, but said he added, ‘‘I would not say in any way, shape or form that we are losing in Afghanistan.’’

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter