Afghan War Hamstrung by Troop Shortage

But Joint Chiefs chair says that Iraq's needs limit US options
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2008 12:26 PM CDT
President Bush, right, with Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen. Bush promised to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan by the end of the year.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – The US needs more troops in Afghanistan but lacks the available forces because of the Iraq war, the nation’s top military officer said yesterday. In his most pointed remarks to date, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen said that countering the country's resurgent Taliban and booming drug trade demands more than the 32,000 American troops stationed there, but that such a move necessitates "a reduced requirement in Iraq."

President Bush has promised to boost troop levels by year's end of the year, but military officials say that won’t happen until conditions stabilize in Iraq, which occupies 145,000 American troops, reports the Washington Post. “If you want to deal with Afghanistan, you have to deal with Iraq first,” counters one expert, who estimates the next president could reduce Iraq's forces by 2011. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)