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US forces in Afghanistan under-resourced: Mullen

A top US military commander on Wednesday admitted that its forces in Afghanistan have been "under-resourced" and underlined the "urgency" for a change in its strategy to fight insurgency in the troubled country.

world Updated: Sep 16, 2009 09:56 IST

A top US military commander on Wednesday admitted that its forces in Afghanistan have been "under-resourced" and underlined the "urgency" for a change in its strategy to fight insurgency in the troubled country.

The war in Afghanistan has been very badly under-resourced for the better part of four or five years, Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen said.

"We have a culture of poverty there amongst us in terms of being under-resourced in an economy of force for this extensive period of time to get to a point where we didn't have the wherewithal to create a program like that -- not that we didn't think it would be needed," he said.

"The totality of that under-resourcing is something we're just coming to grips with. And it's not as simple as trainers, or not as simple combat troops," he argued in response to a question from Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Referring to his statement early this month that "time is not on our side" with regard to Afghanistan, Mullen said he felt an urgency for a change in the US strategy to retake the initiative from the insurgents who have grabbed it over the last three years.

"I have a sense of urgency about this. I worry a great deal that the clock is moving very rapidly," Mullen told Senator John McCain during a Congressional hearing.

The issue of regaining the initiative is absolutely critical, he said, adding that the Afghan people are waiting on the sidelines for how committed US is and so does the people of Pakistan.

In response to a question from Senator Graham, Mullen said it would take two to three years to train the Afghan forces and change the momentum in the country. And till then the security environment would continue to deteriorate.

Mullen said in response to a question from Senator Susan Collins that the Af-Pak strategy was announced by President Barack Obama on March 27 and General McCrystal got there on June 13.

"One of the challenges we have right now is we're just getting the pieces in place of the President's strategy," he said.

Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has worked across an array of requirements to try to get the rest of the comprehensive piece of this strategy going, but it's just starting to get laid in, he said.

"I think we won't know where we are with that quite frankly probably until the springtime, and sort of that first burst," he said.