The new chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, expressed deep concerns that the long counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have so consumed the military that the Army and Marine Corps may be unprepared for a high-intensity war against a major adversary.
He rejected the counsel of those who might urge immediate attacks inside Iran to destroy nuclear installations or to stop the flow of explosives that end up as powerful roadside bombs in Iraq or Afghanistan, killing American troops.
With America at war in two Muslim countries, he said, attacking a third Islamic nation in the region “has extraordinary challenges and risks associated with it.” The military option, he said, should be a last resort.
He pushed back against those who are calling for military action against Iran’s nuclear program, saying that diplomatic and economic pressure must take precedence.
The threat to American and allied troops from high-powered explosives from Iran, he said, should be countered by halting their flow into Iraq or Afghanistan across the borders, and with attacks on those bomb-making and bomb-planting cells inside Iraq or Afghanistan.
“That said, that doesn’t get at the source of it,” he acknowledged. Asked whether the American military should aim at sites inside Iran if intelligence indicated that such interdiction could halt the flow of those bombs, he said “the risks could be very, very high.”
“We’re in a conflict in two countries out there right now,” he added. “We have to be incredibly thoughtful about the potential of in fact getting into a conflict with a third country in that part of the world.”
Irancove @ October 22, 2007