Mullen Details What 2011 Budget Request Will Fund
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2010 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not speak about money today during his testimony on the fiscal 2011 defense budget request before the Senate Armed Services Committee, but rather what that money will do.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responds to questions during testimony with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, center, before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, Feb. 2, 2010. DoD photo by Cherie Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said the money “is required to win the wars we fight. And the one that needs fighting the most right now is in Afghanistan.”
The area along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the epicenter of global terrorism, Mullen said. And the new strategy for the region, he said, makes the safety of the Afghan people the center of gravity and the defeat of al-Qaida a primary goal.
The department is asking for $30 billion for overseas contingency operations and $159 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in fiscal 2011.
“We have already moved nearly 4,500 troops to Afghanistan and expect that about 18,000 of the president’s December 1st commitment will be there by late spring,” Mullen told the committee. “The remainder of the 30,000 will arrive as rapidly as possible over the summer and early fall, making a major contribution to reversing Taliban momentum in 2010.”
If plans hold, by summer there will be more American forces in Afghanistan than in Iraq. “Right now, the Taliban believe they’re winning,” Mullen said. “Eighteen months from now, if we’ve executed our strategy, we’ll know that they won’t – and they’ll know that they can’t.”
Getting to that point will mean hard work, discipline, more sacrifice and bloodshed, the chairman said.
“It’s why we want a 6 percent increase for Special Operations Command,” he said. “And it’s why we need your support to develop and field a next-generation ground combat vehicle to allow us to grow two more Army combat aviation brigades, and to continue rotary wing production – including $2.7 billion dollars for the V-22 Osprey program.”
The wars, the chairman said, are why the department is asking for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. It’s why the department is asking for more unmanned aerial vehicles – including maxing production of the Reaper version of the Predator UAV.
“Our future security is greatly imperiled if we do not win the wars we are in,” Mullen said. “The outcome of today’s conflicts will shape the global security environment for decades to come.”
Mullen said he is comfortable that U.S. forces can and will “finish well” in Iraq. American forces will transition to an advisory and assistance role in August and be out of the country by the end of 2011.
Meanwhile, Congress needs to continue support for Afghanistan, the chairman said, adding that operations in Afghanistan are not simply a mission of mercy.
“This is the place from which we were attacked in 2001, the place from which al-Qaida still plots and plans,” Mullen said. “The security of a great nation – ours and theirs – rests not on sentiment or good intentions, but on what ought to be a cold and unfeeling appraisal of self-interest and an equally cold and unfeeling pursuit of the tools to protect that interest – ours and theirs.”