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Mullen says US needs more troops in Afghanistan

Mullen's comments to Congress Tuesday were the first time he has gone on record saying the Afghan war needs even more American forces.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress Tuesday that more troops will be necessary in Afghanistan, for the first time offering insight into where he and other top uniformed leaders stand on an issue that is dividing President Obama's party.

Mullen is America's top military officer, and his comments could make it harder for Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, or congressional Democrats to oppose such a move.

The administration is currently awaiting the recommendations of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan. If, as expected, he requests more troops – perhaps as many as 45,000 – and Democrats oppose the request, they would be seen as flouting independent military advice.

Conversely, Mullen's comments help most Republicans who generally support a "surge" of additional forces.

"It does make it harder for the president to say, 'No,'" says Anthony Cordesman, an Afghanistan analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

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