By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2010 – The United States is “very committed” to begin drawing down its forces in Afghanistan in July, but large numbers will remain, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said on a televised broadcast today.
“We will start drawing down troops next July,” Mullen told Fareed Zacharia, host of the CNN program, GPS. Any drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground and via a recommendation from commanders on the ground, he said. It is too soon to know the numbers of troops and locations the drawdown will affect first, he added.
“We’re very committed to beginning the drawdown then,” he said. “But there will continue to be a large number of
and allied troops on the ground in U.S. after July 2011.” Afghanistan
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also said that reconciliation talks with the Taliban must be done from a position of strength, and that any talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government right now “are talks about talks.”
Reconciliation is a very important process for
, Mullen said, and when that can happen, political progress will follow. Afghanistan
“We need to do that from a strong position, and we’re just not there right now,” he said. “The Taliban don’t think they are losing and the likelihood that they are going to take any significant steps with respect to reconciliation is low.”
, the chairman said he believes Iranian officials still are working to develop and weaponize nuclear devices, despite their public words to the contrary. The Iran has been thinking about military options against Iranian facilities for some time, but “I still think it is important to focus on the dialogue, to focus on the engagement, but do it in a realistic way,” he said. United States
needs to look at United States and decide whether the nation is going to “tell the truth, actually engage and actually do anything,” he said. Iran has a history of gamesmanship, and American leaders need to take this under consideration, he said. Iran
Mullen also spoke of al-Qaida in the
Arabian Peninsula, saying that the Yemen-based terrorist group continues to be a problem. The recent bombs on cargo aircraft emanated from and the group is actively recruiting members to attack the Yemen , he said. United States
“This al-Qaida group in