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Q&A with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

At a Sept. 29 Monitor breakfast, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen discussed increased pressure to cut the defense budget, US strategy in the Afghanistan war, and the impact of extended deployments on troops and their families.

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U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, at a Monitor breakfast with reporters Sept. 29.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen serves as the principal military adviser to the president and the secretary of Defense. Before assuming his current post in 2007, Admiral Mullen was chief of naval operations. He was the guest at the Sept. 29 Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Federal budget deficits and increased pressure to cut the defense budget:

"The ongoing efforts to move [resources] from overhead into the war-fighting end of our business, I think absolutely critical. What I hope to be able to avoid are any massive cuts.... I think those would be dangerous now, given the national security requirements that we have."

Disagreements between the military and the White House over US strategy in the Afghanistan war, described in Bob Woodward's book "Obama's Wars":

"We are right in the heart of executing this strategy, which the president approved. And optimists or pessimists notwithstanding, everybody at that table agreed that this was the strategy and we should go execute it. And that is where I am focused right now."

Impact of extended deployments on troops and their families:

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