Afghanistan — Mullen Thanks Embassy Employees in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff empha­sized the need for all aspects of nation­al pow­er to con­tribute to defeat­ing extrem­ists in Afghanistan dur­ing an “all-hands” talk today at the U.S. embassy here.

U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers ques­tions dur­ing a town-hall meet­ing at the U.S. Embassy in Kab­ul, Afghanistan, on July 25, 2010.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke to more than 200 employ­ees who crowd­ed into the main atri­um of the embassy and watched from stair­cas­es and bal­conies. They includ­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the more than 600 Afghan nation­als who work at the embassy, as well.

Employ­ees from the Depart­ments of State and Jus­tice, and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, and oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies work in the embassy. Many work along­side U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers to bring the “civ­il” por­tion to the civ­il-mil­i­tary affairs pro­gram.

Mullen thanked the embassy employ­ees for their efforts and sac­ri­fices at an impor­tant time in his­to­ry. “You rep­re­sent such a crit­i­cal part of our suc­cess in ways that have evolved dra­mat­i­cal­ly … over the course of this decade, in par­tic­u­lar,” he said.

The chair­man spoke in front of an Afghan-made rug depict­ing Jasper Johns’ famous paint­ing of the Amer­i­can flag. Before speak­ing to the crowd, the chair­man reen­list­ed a young Navy pet­ty offi­cer who works at the embassy.

Mullen said the mil­i­tary is need­ed to set con­di­tions so oth­er branch­es of gov­ern­ment can help. Secu­ri­ty is nec­es­sary, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of a coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign. “If we don’t have a great team like you, we can’t get there,” he said.

The chair­man spoke about strength­en­ing civil­ian-mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion over the long term. Impor­tant ques­tions to answer, he said, are: What are the fun­da­men­tals in a cam­paign? How do we edu­cate our­selves on that? How do we train our­selves on that? How do we work togeth­er before we are in a con­flict?”

The increase in coop­er­a­tion between civil­ians and ser­vice­mem­bers is increas­ing, Mullen said, nam­ing U.S. Africa Com­mand and U.S. South­ern Com­mand as exam­ples where mil­i­tary for­ma­tions are includ­ing oth­er agency civil­ian employ­ees in the basic man­ning doc­u­ments.

“One of the prob­lems in Iraq was gen­er­at­ing civil­ian capac­i­ty in a war zone,” the chair­man said. Civil­ian agency employ­ees had no expec­ta­tion that they would serve in a war zone. Civil­ian agen­cies did not have the man­pow­er poli­cies in place to iden­ti­fy peo­ple who would be use­ful in the war zones, and then train and place them.

“The future includes all of us,” he said. “It is an absolute require­ment for the world we are liv­ing in right now.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)