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Adm. Mullen: Afghan Withdrawal Plan Riskier Than I Was Prepared To Accept

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (R) and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy testify during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.
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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (R) and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy testify during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the House Armed Services Committee that the Afghan withdrawal plan President Obama presented last night was more aggressive than he originally envisioned. However, Mullen said, he supoorts the president's decision.

The New York Timesreports:

"The president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept," Admiral Mullen said.

"More force for more time is, without doubt, the safer course," he added. "But that does not necessarily make it the best course. Only the president, in the end, can really determine the acceptable level of risk we must take. I believe he has done so."

Admiral Mullen said the goal of the internal policy debate "was preserving the success our troops and their civilian counterparts have achieved thus far," and he agreed with the president's assessment that "the strategy is working."

The Washington Postreports that in a separate hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said she agreed with the president "100 percent" and noted that the president had been presented with "widely divergent views" by his national security team. The Times adds that Clinton also said she had at first "opposed the accelerated timetable."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.