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US military now focusing on Afghanistan: Mullen

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff said the United States was still “not done” in Iraq but that the military’s primary focus was now the war in Afghanistan.

world Updated: Feb 10, 2009 10:06 IST

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff said the United States was still “not done” in Iraq but that the military’s primary focus was now the war in Afghanistan.

“You have turned it around in Iraq,” Admiral Mike Mullen told several hundred soldiers at the Fort Drum US Army base in New York state.

“A year or two ago we were not in a situation where it looked like we could succeed. Now we are,” said the admiral, referring to the US surge of troops credited in part for improved security in Iraq.

But he added: “We’re not done in Iraq.”

“Al-Qaeda is still there, still a problem, although greatly diminished.”

Mullen said he was hopeful the number of US troops in Iraq could be reduced over the next few months but that more forces would be needed in Afghanistan to fight a spreading insurgency.

“Our focus is shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan,” he told enlisted men and women of the 10th Mountain Division, which has deployed large numbers of soldiers to Iraq.

“It’s gotten worse in Afghanistan. Violence is up. The Taliban is back. More than anything else there’s a governance issue which is not going well.”