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Joint Chiefs Nominee Says Troop Surge Making Headway

Adm. Mike Mullen, President Bush's nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Tuesday that the troop surge in Iraq is making some headway. He also said security in Iraq is better, though still "not great."

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    The U.S. military offensive in Iraq took center stage at the Senate Armed Services Committee, although the official agenda item was to consider confirmation of Navy Admiral Michael Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine General James Cartwright as deputy chairman.

    If confirmed by the full Senate, Mullen would become the country's senior military officer and principal military advisor to the president. He offered this assessment of the surge and what the 30,000 additional U.S. troops are accomplishing in Iraq.


    I believe the surge is giving our operational commanders the forces they needed to execute more effective tactics and improve security. That is happening. Security is better, not great, but better.

    I believe security is critical to providing the government of Iraq the breathing space it needs to work toward political national reconciliation and economic growth, which are themselves critical to a stable Iraq. Barring that, no amount of troops and no amount of time will make much of a difference.

    I understand the frustration over the war. I share it. But I am convinced that, because security in Iraq is tied to security in the region and because security in the region bears directly on our own national security, we must consider our next moves very carefully.