“As difficult as it may be to accept, we must prepare ourselves for more violence and more casualties in coming months,” Mullen told the reporters, according to Agence France Presse
(AFP) on Wednesday.
“The violence will be worse in 2011 than it was in 2010 in many parts of Afghanistan,” he continued.
That violence in the heavily occupied country resulted in 2010 being the deadliest year on record in the nine-year war, the longest war in American history. According to icasualties.org
, 711 US and NATO forces were killed last year, with 499 US casualties among that number.
“We know the enemy is resilient and we know the things are likely to get harder before they get any easier,” he added. “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels, it’s the time to press on our advantages and to redouble our efforts
,” Mullen is quoted as saying by AFP.
Calling recently reported gains as “tenuous and fragile,” Mullen suggested that Taliban leaders are having minimal impact in the southern and southwestern parts of Afghanistan, including Kandahar and Helmand.
“The enemy is being pushed out of population centers, it’s being denied sanctuaries and it’s losing leaders by the score,” he continued in the AFP report.
In addition to the “redouble our efforts” statement, Mullen also hinted at a further increase of troops
, stating: “I have confidence it will continue to lose so long as coalition and Afghan forces increase their presence and their pressure.”
Although there has been a publicly stated drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan beginning this year, Mullen called that withdrawal “conditions-based.” Apparently, announcing an increase in violence for the coming year is a part of that “conditions-based” assessment.
Mullen provided no new estimates for allowing Afghan security forces to take control of the country by the end of 2014, other than noting: “The Afghan army is progressing in a much more organized and at a quicker pace than we have expected,” AFP reported.