Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen held a press briefing today about the increasingly unpopular and violent war in Afghanistan.
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"We have to start to turn this thing around ... over the next 12 or 18 months," said Mullen, adding a note of confidence. "We know how to do this."
"Our mission is to defeat Al-Qaeda and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven again. We need the support of the local population," he said. "The number that counts the most is the number of villagers we protect."
Gates also addressed the recent scandal over private contractors charged with guarding the U.S. embassy in Kabul, who allegedly engaged in hazing and partying while working at the embassy.
"I don't think we have the information to say what ought to be done," he said. "If those allegations are true, those activities are not just offensive to Afghans and Muslims, they're offensive to us, and inexcusable."