WASHINGTON — With security and economic conditions in Afghanistan already in dire straits, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that the situation there would probably only worsen next year.
“The trends across the board are not going in the right direction,” the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters. “And I would anticipate next year would be a tougher year.”
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen gestures as he addresses the media in Ankara in this September 15, 2008 file photo.REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Admiral Mullen said Afghanistan was likely to continue what a new intelligence assessment calls “a downward spiral” barring rapid, major improvements to curb Afghanistan’s booming heroin trade, bolster district and tribal leaders to offset a weak central government in Kabul, breathe life into a flagging economy, and stem the flow of militants who are carrying out increasingly sophisticated attacks from safe havens in Pakistan.
Admiral Mullen struck a pessimistic note when asked about the likelihood of those badly needed changes falling into place. “Both the trends and the status specifically of where we are on those other things right now would indicate that the trends are going to continue,” he said.