Improving local government, economics and education are key steps to combating terrorism along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, said Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a speech at Texas A&M University.
U.S. efforts to counteract al-Qaeda, as well as a host of extremist organizations affiliated with it, come as the terror groups seek to expand their global influence and reach.
“Several of those organizations, in addition to al-Qaeda, now have global aspirations and are moving to a point of having global operational capacity,” Mullen said, “and they threaten us very specifically –- the United States, Western interests, our European friends.”
Success in the fight against terrorist organizations will come as the result of several factors, Mullen said, including training the Afghan army and police, but also humanitarian aims.
“I don’t think we can kill our way through this,” he said. “I think those conditions have to change and that’s a long-term challenge. That’s not going to happen overnight. But together with other countries — responsible global powers — we can make significant progress over time. That’s the long-term answer.”
Mullen was tight-lipped about a timeline for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, but for good reason, he said.
“There is a strong desire to say: ‘Here’s a timeline, here’s when it ends and [to] know for sure,’” he said. “I’ve been living in this world for too long; we don’t predict timelines very well.”