Mullen Praises Germany’s Performance in Afghanistan

BERLIN, June 9, 2011 — Germany’s “tru­ly excep­tion­al per­for­mance” in Afghanistan’s Region­al Com­mand North has come at a cost to a coun­try that is a key ally of the Unit­ed States, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said today.
“I’m very grate­ful for the con­tin­u­ing con­tri­bu­tion of Ger­many in Afghanistan,” the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said dur­ing a brief­ing here with Ger­man and inter­na­tion­al jour­nal­ists.

Since 2001, Mullen said, its sup­port in Afghanistan has cost Ger­many the lives of 52 sol­diers, with 190 more wound­ed.

Mullen met with mem­bers of the coun­try team at the U.S. Embassy, which over­looks the site of the for­mer Berlin Wall. A short dis­tance away, on the parade field at the Ger­man defense min­istry, the chair­man par­tic­i­pat­ed in a mil­i­tary hon­ors cer­e­mo­ny and then a wreath lay­ing at the memo­r­i­al of the Bun­deswehr, Germany’s armed forces. The memo­r­i­al com­mem­o­rates the deaths since 1955 of more than 3,100 Ger­man sol­diers killed dur­ing com­bat and in attacks, mil­i­tary acci­dents and exer­cis­es. After­ward, the chair­man met with Gen. Volk­er Wiek­er, chief of the Ger­man armed forces, and oth­er mil­i­tary offi­cials.

“I want to thank Gen­er­al Wiek­er and his staff for host­ing me. We’ve had some good dis­cus­sions,” Mullen said.

“We actu­al­ly meet fair­ly fre­quent­ly through­out the year,” he added, “but it’s very spe­cial to be here and to have dis­cus­sions with him with respect to the chang­ing times in which we cer­tain­ly find our­selves.”

Mullen said he believes strong­ly in the NATO alliance, which he said is “more rel­e­vant than ever,” adding that U.S. and Ger­man par­tic­i­pa­tion in the alliance is crit­i­cal.

A big rea­son for his vis­it, Mullen said, is to dis­cuss ways to strength­en a rela­tion­ship that’s already excep­tion­al­ly strong, and “to lis­ten to how the Ger­man mil­i­tary lead­er­ship sees that future unfold­ing in these increas­ing­ly chal­leng­ing times where part­ners are so crit­i­cal.”

The Afghanistan cam­paign is head­ed in the right direc­tion, the chair­man said.

“The resources, the strat­e­gy and the lead­er­ship that have been put in place over the course of the last 18 to 24 months have been the right resources and strat­e­gy,” he said. “And the lead­er­ship has been excep­tion­al.”

The essence of the fight this year, he said, is that the Tal­iban are try­ing to get back to safe havens that the coali­tion has tak­en from them. “It’s been a par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult fight, and it will con­tin­ue to be,” the admi­ral said. “But the Tal­iban is in a place they’ve not been in for a long time.”

Along with the mil­i­tary cam­paign, he said, a sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal and diplo­mat­ic effort is under way that involves rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan and Pak­istan.

“Every con­flict involves a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at some point,” Mullen said, “[although] from my per­spec­tive, it’s too ear­ly to put any kind of time­line on that. I just know an awful lot of peo­ple are work­ing it hard.”

Lead­ers in Pak­istan, Afghanistan and the Unit­ed States, he added, “are all very much com­mit­ted to the inclu­sive aspect of the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process.”

The chair­man said he’s also encour­aged by NATO’s oper­a­tion in Libya, although much work remains. “I was impressed with how rapid­ly NATO made a deci­sion on Libya and how rapid­ly they stood up the mis­sion and start­ed to exe­cute,” he said. “When you con­sid­er that we did in a few days what it took many, many, many months to do in the Balka­ns in the 1990s, I think that com­par­i­son is reflec­tive of where NATO is right now.”

The oper­a­tion in Libya, Mullen said, “is going pret­ty well.”

“We will con­tin­ue to raise the pres­sure on [Libyan leader Moam­mar] Gad­hafi to leave Libya,” he added. In the long run, he said, “that’s an out­come that serves the region, it serves the world, and most impor­tant­ly, it serves the peo­ple of Libya the best.”

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter