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DAVE COOK: Okay, folks. Here we go. Thanks for coming. I'm Dave Cook from the Monitor. We're honored to have as our guest the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. This is his second visit with the group. His last one was in October of 2008. He was confirmed by the Senate as chairman in August of 2007. Prior to that, he served for two years as Chief of Naval Operations. I'm going to skip most of the biography in the effort to get as many people questions as possible. But as always, we have to go through the process portion. We're on the record. There's no live blogging or tweeting during the session. We've had some issues with that recently, so your cooperation is greatly appreciated. After the breakfast is over, blog and tweet to your heart's content. There's no embargo when the session is over. Finally, as regulars here know, our goal is to have these gatherings be as much like a civilized conversation and as little like a hit and run press conference as possible, and to that end, if you'd like to ask a question, please send me a subtle, non-threatening signal, and I'll do my best to call on as many as possible. I'll do my best to summon your name from my aging memory bank, and apologies if that fails. Admiral Mullen has requested that we skip any opening remarks and go right to questions. I'm going to lob one or two softballs, and then we'll go around the table. We're going to start with Craig Whitlock, Frank Oliveri, Dave Michaels, Richard Sisk and Anna Mulrein (ph). Let me ask you about budget pressures. As you know, Eisenhower's military industrial complex speech talked about the need to find a balance between defense and other parts of government. Secretary Gates has said he's worried that budget and politics will gut the military. He's looking to trim 100 billion. We had a guest on Friday, Barney Frank, who was saying that even deeper cuts are needed in order to sort of deal with the budget deficit. He said we ought to have a 20 percent cut in military spending, saying that we're subsidizing wealthy Europeans and Asian allies. I know in the past you've argued that we, if anything, were sort of underfunded on defense. Where do you see it now and how much of a cut do you see coming? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I see the pressure growing, and I think it's going to continue to grow very specifically, and I -- in the next --. I very much applaud the efforts that Secretary Gates is undertaking. Literally for me in the Navy, since about 2003, I've been focused on when this budget might tip, and we're there, as far as I'm concerned. The ongoing efforts to move 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, and I -- and quite frankly, I think those would be dangerous now, given the national security requirements that we have. From my perspective, there's an upside to the pressure, in the sense that it's going to force tough decisions across the board, certainly inside the Pentagon, and I think Secretary Gates and I and others have shown a willingness to do that. It's going to -- it will force prioritization and it will force us to make decisions about programs that are not performing, to either eliminate them or contain them until they can perform. And I worry it's going to get worse before it gets better, in terms of the overall pressure. Looking at the overall deficits, the fact that the Pentagon is 50 percent of the discretionary, roughly half of the discretionary spending in the government, those pressures are built. So I'm hoping we can lead this, as opposed to get to a point where there are massive cuts, because massive cuts, the only way that you can meet -- the only way you can answer that is through significant force structure. People and significant parts of your Army, of the force, whether it's brigades or ships or regiments for the Marine Corps, etcetera. So that's why this work is so important, and again, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. DAVE COOK: Last question from me. One takeaway from the Woodward book is an apparent lack of enthusiasm for the strategy the country's following in Afghanistan. The President is quoted as saying what makes us think, given the description of the problem, that we're going to design a solution to this. And at least there's some critics that think it appears we're sending young people out to die for a strategy we're not sure can work. Is that perception accurate? Does it trouble you? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I haven't read the book, so I hope we can get the book questions behind us, if that's possible. But it does speak, certainly the question speaks to the overall strategy. Where I am right now is executing the strategy that the President has both approved and directed us to execute. Very focused on that. I said, I'll repeat what I said before. I think the strategy's right. Petraeus has said numerous times, and I agree with him, that we have the inputs right. What we have a tendency to forget, I think, is how badly under-resourced the Afghanistan effort was for an extended period of time. That's not just about military forces. That's about the civilian complement, the intellectual aspect of it, the strategic aspect of it. The review we went through a year ago was a very robust, vigorous debate on a major, major issue for the country, and for the President. I applaud the review and the thoroughness of it. All of that said, we're now in execution. We think we have the inputs of that right. Very focused on execution and we are seeing, starting to see some progress. I think it's too soon to tell, and it's not just about the security piece, because there's a governance piece, development of the Afghan security forces, which is actually going better than many anticipated a year ago, as well as overall development. So we're right in the middle of that execution right now. I just think it's too soon to tell about where this heads eventually. DAVE COOK: But it's a strategy, just to follow -- well, you said "the right strategy." I'll stop on that. Craig. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Sir, if I could ask you about the situation in Pakistan. There's a lot of rumors that a coup could be imminent, or at a minimum that the military is seeking substantial changes in the civilian leadership. You know General Kayani very well. You spent a lot of time over there. What's your assessment, and have you had any recent communications with him about that subject? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I haven't had any recent communications with him about that at all, although I did speak to him a couple of days ago specifically about the cross-border, the stories that were out with respect to cross-border, which was a self-defense operation that took place very close to the border, and it's certainly not the first time that that's ever happened. But in the conversation I had with Mirdad (ph), I didn't speak at all about that, the issue, and I've certainly seen the reports. I was there, I think, about a month ago, and I really went this time to see the floods. The devastation of the floods is very difficult to capture in the media or in video. It's just massive, and he was very much focused on that, because the Army is dispersed in so many places, and the Army was executing relief for their citizens. They've obviously struggled in that regard significantly. There's an extraordinary amount of pressure, you know, on the government, and then you know, from my point of view, anything else that's going on internally in the country is really, that's really an internal matter specifically. MONITOR BREAKFAST: If I could follow up briefly on briefly on your conversation with the general, what did he have to say about the cross-border operation? ADMIRAL MULLEN: All we did was -- all we did was -- all I did was clarify to him what happened, and we had, you know, reached an understanding of what that was. It was actually a relatively short conversation. DAVE COOK: Frank? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, the President, in front of the U.N. and then Secretary Gates yesterday emphasized the importance of development as far as foreign policy is concerned, and it's obviously very, very important to point out -- DAVE COOK: For the people in the back, would you speak up just a little please? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm sorry. It's obviously a concern also in the COIN operations in Afghanistan. So I was wondering are there more things that Congress should be doing to encourage the civilian side of the effort in Afghanistan, whether it's US AID, State funding, so on and so forth? There has been some talk about cutting back some of the State and foreign operations funding. I wanted to get your thoughts on that. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, we talked about budget pressures earlier. I mean when, you know, when pressures rise, there is an extraordinary amount of pressure and discussion about where we can cut. That said, I think cuts in that area have a, not just a short term impact but a long-term impact, which let's say moving out of Afghanistan and other parts of the world, which really are preventative in terms of their application, as opposed to having to spend money once a conflict has broken out. Congress has been enormously supportive of the kinds of fundings that we have asked for, that State has asked for, particularly in Afghanistan, in Iraq and Afghanistan over time, and actually on more than one occasion their insight has helped us get to a better place in terms of execution of things like CERP or things like 1206, 1207, 1208 funding. So I think it takes the fullness of the team actually to get this right. Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton have worked very closely together. That's been, I think, a very important part of this overall process. But it certainly isn't going to surprise, doesn't surprise me that again, as budget pressures increase, they're going to be tough questions that have to be -- that are going to get asked and need to be answered. MONITOR BREAKFAST: If I may follow on that, just real quickly. You talk about, you mentioned the CERP fund. If State isn't able to do some of the things that you all are, U.S. AID has been able to do, it falls back on the military to do it in some cases. For example, the electrification of Qandahar, 229 million dollars' worth of CERP money going into that. That originally wasn't the plan, was it? So I'm curious as to how you look at the burden-sharing there, and whether it's appropriate? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I think it's the combination of the sense of urgency. The electrification, the project for the electrification of Qandahar is a huge project that is key to the overall counter-insurgency strategy, and where we are right now was we're working our way through how to fund that in an expeditious way, not to abuse the funding, but take advantage of it but certainly with no-long term effort to have CERP support those kinds of projects. DAVE COOK: Dave Michaels. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I have a question about defense spending. Personnel and health care costs have risen substantially for the military in recent years, and some of the defense budget analysts say that continued increases in those costs will crowd out funding for acquisitions in future years. Do you see that as a trend inherent in the current budget pressures, and if so, what sort of decision is that going to force the Department of Defense to make? ADMIRAL MULLEN: It is inherent to who we are, and I think, while I couldn't, I wouldn't be able to specifically go back to every time the cycle has been executed. But the pressure is going to be felt in procurement. I am extremely concerned about the rise in personnel costs and inside that, the rise in health care costs. It's not to say, I think, in 2000 or 2001, we were spending about 19 billion in health care, and now it's over 50. I can see, I think in the next four or five years, it goes over to -- it goes up to 64 billion, as least as it's currently projected. It's just not sustainable. So we're going to have to contain that, and we have not asked, although we've asked inside the Pentagon, and I've supported for years an increase in the co-pay requirements, which have not gone up since 1995. It doesn't -- it doesn't make sense that we can provide the same kind of health care and sustain it over time without changes like that, recognizing that's not an insignificant issue. But we're going to have to figure out how to get our arms around that, and the priorities are we need to fund these wars that we're in, because I've got people on the front lines who are sacrificing their lives. From my perspective, as we look at where we are right now and how we get ready for the future, we need to make sure we take care of the people and their families. If we do that right, we keep the right people in, that this is the most combat-hardened force we've had in our history. They are extraordinarily capable people. If we get that right, particularly for our young junior officers and our mid-grade NCOs and our families, then I think our future, in terms of a very successful military in the future, is virtually guaranteed. The pressure then comes on the procurement accounts, and that's why I said earlier. Programs that aren't performing, from my perspective, need to be looked at, to either get in some kind of cost schedule criteria that they can actually execute, or they need to go away. And we need to -- from my perspective, we need to evolve from one program to another, one capability to another, as opposed to junk, as a part of looking forward to the kinds of things that we need in the future. So I think there will be increased pressure on accounts, on all accounts, but in particular on procurement accounts. We don't have much of a debate about personnel costs in this town. It is, when I was head of the Navy, somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of the $115 billion budget I had as CNO, were personnel costs, and that was a few years ago. They've gone up since then. So it's the -- it is by far the largest part of our budget, and we've got to get that right as well. DAVE COOK: Richard Sisk. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, there have been reports that the State Department teams, the development teams, have been pretty much limited to Kabul because of security concerns. Where does that stand, sir? Are they getting (inaudible)? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I said probably two months ago I was in Qandahar with the PRT there, and we had, and they had increased in number significantly. I actually was taken back by how engaged and out beyond the wire they were, and happy to be there to do that. When, this is last summer, when the Marines went into the south, it was two summers ago, I mean there were civilians literally there on the second day. So I need to pull the string on exactly what you're talking about. I haven't heard or read those reports specifically. Certainly, you've got to have a modicum of security to get the civilians in place behind the military. But what I've seen, and it's not just in the United States. I've seen this with the Brits, with the Canadians and other countries, that the civilians are very game to get out and execute their part of the mission. DAVE COOK: Hannah? MONITOR BREAKFAST: General, the 5-2nd of the Stryker brigade just started hearings this past week for the soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians, and you come from a Navy tradition where, you know, if your ship runs into a buoy, you hear about it and you're going to have to answer some tough questions. ADMIRAL MULLEN: How did you know that happened to me? DAVE COOK: A little profile she wrote. (Laughter.) MONITOR BREAKFAST: I did. I didn't want to talk about it. So I'm curious now to what extent command climate and responsibility, you know, how closely do you think the military needs to look at that? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I mean fundamental to command in every service is accountability. It's the responsibility we give you and it's accountability as a leader. I mean, you get to these cases. Obviously, I can't comment and wouldn't comment on these cases. But they are, from an overall both execute the mission. I mean I would -- I just visited. It's now 2-2; it's not 5-2 anymore since they got back. I visited them while they were deployed as well, and they had a very difficult deployment. They lost, I think the number was 37 in that brigade, and I think they had 130 or 140 who were wounded. I mean it was a large number. Very difficult deployment in a very tough time in Arghandaw, in particular. They then shifted up to Route 1, as you probably know. So I am -- I think that is -- the accountability piece is fundamental to who we are. It's how I was obviously raised in the Navy, and having commanded at very, you know, at a lot of levels. I feel very strongly about it. The inference of the question is, you know, tied to the court martials or the proceedings, and I would just, you know, I would stay away from that entirely. DAVE COOK: Art. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Yes sir, Admiral. You surprised a lot of people in February when you said it's perhaps to do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In May, the House agreed and went along with it. Last week, the Senate basically kicked you in the teeth and said "not yet." As the nation's top military officer, how do you feel about that? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I'm very clear where I was on February 2nd and where I am today, and just to remind, this was my personal -- this is my personal view, that it's -- I struggled greatly with the fact that we ask people, in an institution that values integrity, which is who we are, and that we would ask individuals to show up every day and basically lie. And so my position on that hasn't changed at all. I am -- if I could pick, and I can't, but if I could pick the way this would happen, I'd like to finish the review and have the review then inform the legislative process. I'm not in charge of the legislative process. It has, and I've said this many times, it has -- it's very difficult to predict that, and it's really up to Congress to move that through. I certainly, from a perspective some time ago, didn't expect -- you know, certainly I expect there to be ups and downs, and I think there will continue to be. But in terms of what I said before, what happened last week had no impact on me. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Is it a boogeyman in this country, that people are so intensely focused on it, we're exaggerating it? You look at all these other nations that do it. It happens quietly and quickly. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Yes. Actually, I'll be able to answer that question much better, having seen the results of the survey. We've got the data in from the military members. I think we surveyed almost 400,000, and we had significant response to that. We just finished, I think yesterday was the last day for families to respond. Out of 150,000, and we've had a good response to that. But we need to crunch the data. We really need to see what it says, and all of that is to look at if, you know, if and when the law changes, how would we implement it, and what are the major issues? What are the policies, what are the regulations that would have to be addressed if and when this occurred? So I'm really much more focused on that aspect of it than the -- than the issue as you describe it, and what it is or what it isn't in that regard. MONITOR BREAKFAST: When you said "good response," what do you mean by "good response"? ADMIRAL MULLEN: That statistically, the responses are -- the numbers are high enough so that they will be statistically significant in their output. DAVE COOK: Brian? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral Mullen, you've talked for a number of years now about your concerns of the impact that deployments have on other things. In other words, the military's ability to prepare for the unforeseen. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Sure. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Obviously, Iraq had a lot to do with those concerns. That's coming down in terms of military commitment. But can you just give us an update. When you look out at the world, are you more confident than maybe a year or two ago, that the military is prepared if that unforeseen thing comes up? If not, or if we're not fully there yet, what more needs to be done? ADMIRAL MULLEN: No. We've been very stretched for an extended period of time, and I'll go back to Fort Lewis, where then 5-2 and now 2-2 is home. I was actually taken -- I was out there about a month ago, and I was taken aback by the fact that at Fort Lewis, by the end of October, 36,000 troops will be back. It's the first time and it is now a joint base, Lewis-McChord, both Army and Air Force. And we've never had that many troops there, and certainly not since 2003. There's only one brigade on the Patch chart that's scheduled to deploy out of there for the next two years. So that's an indication of the start of the increased dwell time for our big units, which is where we are right now. But I think it's going to take us a couple of years to build the resilience that we need to be ready to train for other missions specifically. So we're not there yet. Can we, if we had a challenge in another part of the world, could we meet that? Yes, we could. But so it hasn't changed a lot as of this moment yet, Brian, except we're now starting to see an increased time at home. I'll use Fort Lewis as an example. It's not that way at every post, and we expect to get to a point where we're home twice as long as we are deployed, in somewhere between 12 and 24 months from now. I think it's really at that point, once -- just because you start that period, you're not rebuilt at all. You've got to get through that period. The other thing is, I think we're going to see a significant increase in the challenges that we have in terms of troops and our families, because we are going to -- they are going to have some time home. If there are things that have been pent up or packed in or basically suppressed or sucked up, whatever term you want to use, we're going to start to see that as well. The emergency issue right now for me is the suicide issue. We had five suicides in the Army last weekend, and I am -- it's a very difficult problem. There's not a national suicide -- there's not a national solution for this issue. When you start diving into this, it's something that the literature isn't very deep or very comprehensive, and then you roll that into all the pressures that we've been under. It's not just the Army, because every service, the suicide rate has gone up dramatically since 2004. But it's not the only challenge that we have. Dealing with PTS, dealing with the injuries, dealing with just the overall pressures that so many have dealt with for so long. I think we're going to see a growth in that before we see a decline, and we need the time to recognize that growth and then see a decline, which I think it will in a couple of years, in a given area or with a given unit. The chief of the army, Chief of Staff of the Army talks about garrison leadership, and I'll just go back to Lewis-McChord. That's got to be, that's going to have to be taught, because the vast majority of people in the Army haven't seen garrison leadership. They've been deployed since 2003, and who knows garrison leadership? It's the 8's and the 9's. They're the ones that can teach that standard, and we're going to see more and more of that. So we're at 50,000 in Iraq and that starts to -- that provided this opportunity to start to increase our dwell time, and at least right now we're on target to see that continue to increase more broadly across the ground forces over the next couple of years. DAVE COOK: We've got about 26 minutes left. Let me tell you who we've got coming up. Mark Shields, (name) McManus, Yoke Driesen, Tom Vandenbrook, Lynn Sweet, Mr. Facara, Dillard Guinger, Eli Lake, Josef Dumiller, Al Eisele, John Barry, Dave Wood and Cynthia Tucker. It would probably be better if I read a list of those who didn't have questions. Mark? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral Mullen, Republican Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina, with 420 co-sponsors, passed the House; a very simple proposition. Pat Roberts, Republican Senator from Kansas has 89 co-sponsors in the Senate. Just simply change the name of the department to the Department of Navy and the Marine Corps. Could you tell me your resistance to it, or the Department's resistance to the tradition and blind ignorance? ADMIRAL MULLEN: It is -- was that a question? (Laughter.) ADMIRAL MULLEN: I've not supported that for years. I know that Mr. Jones has brought this forward year after year. I think that the existing construct which has been in place for a long, long time serves us more than adequately in terms of what our needs are, and I mean I guess I wouldn't have a whole lot to add to that. I just haven't supported it from the first time that I heard about it, which was a few years ago, and I don't support it now. I just, I don't think we need to change it. It's a department which functions exceptionally well in its current construct, and I don't think there's a need to change it. MONITOR BREAKFAST: You would accept the change if the Congress -- ADMIRAL MULLEN: If the law changed? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Yes. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Oh sure. I actually do follow the law. DAVE COOK: Yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, I'm going to try your patience with a question that plays off the Woodward book, but at least it's a forward-looking question and not a backward-looking question. From all the reporting done on that process, I think we've all got the impression, or at least I have the impression that, to shorthand it mercilessly, CENTCOM is populated by optimists, who say that given time and resources this strategy can work, and the White House, populated by pessimists, who say we'll give you exactly this much time and this much resources, but most of us don't think this strategy can work. So you face an uphill argument potentially in December and later on in proof of concept. So two questions. Is my perception off base, and second, is December too early for proof of concept? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I said, I'll go to the second piece of it. I said a year ago, and still believe this, that in -- come December, we would have indicators of how this was going. December is really a review of the strategy. It is not, I'm sorry, review of the implementation to see how we're doing. There may be some adjustments. But I don't expect any massive changes in December. I think it's important to get to July 2011, because I think then we will have very strong indicators as to whether this is working or not, and we are -- From my perspective, we're right, you know, 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 that we would go execute it. That's where I'm focused right now. How we got here is an interesting, you know, interesting in history, and I said earlier the thoroughness and the vigor and rigor with which we reviewed it, I applaud. We're now in execution, and I see some signs of progress. It's a tough fight. We are in safe havens, Marjah, Peshwar (ph), Arghandaw, safe havens the Taliban have had for a number of years and we're digging them out. Actually, we're digging them out fairly effectively. But I'm certainly, I want to wait and see. Obviously, towards the end of this year, and well into next year, to really see if this thing is headed fair. That's not to say it isn't or it can't. So I'm not trying to be overly-optimistic or rosy. I want to be realistic about this, and we're in that execution right now. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Will you not be using the phrase "proof of concept" for the December review? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I suppose you can use any phrase you want. (Laughter.) DAVE COOK: Yoke? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, you were talking -- nice to see you again -- ADMIRAL MULLEN: Yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: --before about how we got here being in some ways less important. But looking ahead again to July 2011, we have Vice President Biden saying large numbers of troops will come back (inaudible). You have others in the White House again signaling that, in their view, this is the start of significant and serious withdrawal. Then you have General Petraeus that we didn't go over here to oversee a rush to the exits, you know, General Caldwell calling it the beginning of a process to begin the process of evaluating withdrawal. Which is it? Is the White House view of lots of troops, or is it the military view, apparently, of few if any, based on conditions on the ground? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I think Petraeus said it and Caldwell repeated it. It's the beginning of a process. We don't know how. Troops are going to start coming out. There's no question. How many, where they come from, is to be determined, and I wouldn't say anything more, because we just -- we just don't know yet, and we won't know. It's going to be based on recommendations from the commander on the ground, and it's going to be based on the conditions at the time, which are difficult to predict with that kind of precision right now, as they always are. So that's really where we are. It is the beginning of a process, and last week or two weekends ago, I was with my NATO colleagues, and actually I've been taken aback over the course of the last year and a half at how solidified NATO is, and to remind there are 49 countries that have troops in Afghanistan right now, how solidified NATO is with respect to this mission. And I -- and it's been a very positive part of the overall process over the last, over the course of the last 18 months. So I can't say exactly what's going to happen in July 2011, except we begin the process. Some troops are going to come out. How many, where they come from and that it's conditions-based, and it's going to be based on the recommendation that comes from the commander on the ground. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Just to follow up briefly on your NATO point, Netherlands leaving, Canada leaving, Britain cutting back. By this time next year, U.S. will be in command of RC East, RC South and RC Southwest. Why is this not effectively our war more than it's ever been before that? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Again, it's 49 countries, Yoke, and I would take issue with the Brits cutting back. I mean I haven't seen that. I got their cuts in their overall defense department budget, but I'm not aware that they're cutting back in Afghanistan. I certainly haven't seen that. The decisions, the political decisions that Canada and The Netherlands made were some time ago specifically, and I haven't, I just haven't seen. I mean that's been known for a fairly significant period of time. I've been in and out of NATO a bunch since those decisions, and I just haven't seen other countries prepared to quote-unquote "run for the exits." In fact, I've seen them be, you know, many of them move in the other direction. So I feel more comfortable, I feel as comfortable as I've ever felt with respect to NATO and its support, in terms of the overall campaign there. DAVE COOK: Tom Vanderbrook. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Sir, what's the most significant unmet need of troops in Afghanistan? What are commanders asking for that they're not getting or not getting enough of? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, always there's a huge request always for ISR, for that kind of support specifically, although we've moved an awful lot of ISR support there. There can always be more in the ISR world. So we're still trying to figure ways to optimize that. General Austin in Iraq still has ISR requirements. So that's probably one that we're working very hard. We've taken significant steps in the last, certainly the last year to rapidly improve the whole IED network, because that's what's killing most of our people, not just in terms of M-ATVs, where we've got thousands of those in very rapidly, but the entire network and how you defeat it, from a supply side, for example, and we've actually made a lot of progress there. So that's, those are probably the two that we're most focused on right now. I wouldn't sign up to unmet need. Those are very, very significant requirements that we have by and large filled very rapidly over the course of the last year, but there's still more that we need to get done. DAVE COOK: Lynn Sweet. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I have a question about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. I know he was involved in the Afghanistan review. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Isn't the answer Chicago? MONITOR BREAKFAST: It may be. (Laughter.) ADMIRAL MULLEN: You've heard it as far as (inaudible). MONITOR BREAKFAST: My question is can you tell me a little bit about his style when he's in these meetings, give us a little bit of insight as to his style, his technique, how he gets to help people make decisions? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I actually really do poorly when I start describing individuals, and how they function, or how they, particularly in these kinds of meetings. But I have -- I mean I'll say I have found him incisive, direct, engaged and oftentimes -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: Profane? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Actually not, actually not, and undeterred. I mean and somebody who I think has contributed significantly. I mean that's -- that's about all I'll say. DAVE COOK: Mr. Facara. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Good morning, Admiral. A question about Iran, if I may. I'm not going to ask you if or when the United States may be going to war against Iran. But should it come to that, what would you say you would think are the pros and cons of something like that, going to war against Iran? The second question, if I may, a while back, as you're well aware no doubt, the notion was floated that people in the administration felt that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians somehow undermined U.S. national security, and General Petraeus' name was inaccurately attached to that. I just want to have your thoughts on if you personally feel that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is a threat to your men and women in uniform, in places like Iraq or Afghanistan? ADMIRAL MULLEN: No, I don't, to answer that piece. I mean it's a hypothetical overall, and I'm not anxious to speak to that. I have spoken very clearly for a long time about the unintended consequences, the consequences and the unintended consequences of one, their obtaining nuclear weapons capability and the threat that that presents, and the other side of that is if there were a strike, I worry as much about the unintended consequences as I do those that we could figure out going in. So I am a big supporter of the diplomacy-dialogue-sanctions pressure, international pressure. I just, I believe that it is a -- it is in a part of the world that is not very stable, and Iran continuing to proceed on the path that I believe they're on, which is to achieve this nuclear weapons capability, on the one hand, or some kind of strike, which would then could then result in significant -- a significant conflict. I think the consequences, known and unknown, are extremely serious. So that speaks to both the importance and the priority of reaching a conclusion here, where Iran from my perspective, where Iran figures out it is not in their interest to have a nuclear weapon. It is in their best interest long-term to not have that capability, and we achieve that state without a strike is optimal. Is it doable? I think that question is still out there. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Does the U.S. today -- DAVE COOK: Feola? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm sorry. Just do you think that the U.S. today has the wherewithal to engage in a third front, whether it's Iran or something else, given all the financial constraints that President Obama is under domestically? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I've said, I mean I don't, I never underestimate our capability. I mean obviously that doesn't mean we're not stretched and strained, as we talked about before. The other thing I'd say, I've been in and out of the Middle East and out of the Gulf area since the early 80's, and routinely I am asked, you know, can you do anything about the Middle East peace process? I mean can you get this going? It is going now. Now, and I think that's an incredibly important step in this overall process, in that part of the world, and that it will be hard. Yes, I've got all that, but I'm encouraged that they're at the table and they're actually talking to each other. DAVE COOK: Feola? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Chairman, did you, when you spoke to General Kayani the other day, did you discuss the Pakistani military's operations against the militants there, and what is your current level of either comfort or concern with that? And in relation to the recent sort of increase in threat perception against the U.K., the terrorist threat against the U.K. and France and so on, what is the U.S. military's role or involvement at all in addressing or preventing any kind of execution of those threats? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I didn't, I did not talk about the, his current engagement with respect to the extremists or militants in his country. Again, it wasn't a very long conversation. It was very specifically focused, as I indicated before. That doesn't mean that when I'm with him, we've had routine conversations about this for a long period of time. Clearly, the floods had a huge impact, because his army had to shift the main effort, if you will, to take care of their people, which is what they did. But from my perspective, I mean he certainly hasn't given up on continuing to address that issue, both -- and particularly the internal threat that he's got, and he has and continues to have. With respect to any additional threat or let's say a threat in another country, it really is from -- the U.S. military doesn't typically play much of a role in that regard. This is really tied to, you know, how governments work together, how we share information, etcetera, and I wouldn't -- I guess I just wouldn't say much more than that right now. DAVE COOK: Eli? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral Mullen, is it your understanding as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the 2001 authorization for military force gives the United States the authority to target Al Qaeda anywhere all over the world? ADMIRAL MULLEN: It is my understanding. DAVE COOK: Elizabeth? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral Mullen, the five soldiers in the Stryker brigade that have been charged with murder, their lawyers have said that there was rampant hash smoking in unit, perhaps laced with opium. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Can you repeat your question? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Yes. The five soldiers charged with premeditated murder in the Stryker brigade, their lawyers alleged this week that there was rampant hash smoking in the unit, some of it laced with opium. My question to you is are you -- is this an aberration as far as you know, or are you concerned about this occurring in other units in Afghanistan with the drug (inaudible)? ADMIRAL MULLEN: I haven't -- I haven't seen, Elizabeth, any other indications of that. Certainly that, without the specifics of this case, about which I actually don't know much, except what I've read in the newspapers. Certainly that kind of problem is a huge issue, if it's out there. But I just -- I haven't seen it and I don't mean that it hasn't just been reported. I haven't seen any kind of significant rise in the data, the kind of testing we do to test people, test all our troops with respect to drug use, that would indicate that. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Are you satisfied -- just to follow up, are you satisfied with the testing for drug use? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Yes, yes. DAVE COOK: Al? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Chairman, I asked you a couple of weeks ago at the Hill Policy Breakfast about Iraq, and I prefaced my question by saying that we spent almost a trillion dollars and lost more than 34,000 American lives and so on, and yet things appear to be back at square one. ADMIRAL MULLEN: How many American lives? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm sorry? ADMIRAL MULLEN: How many American lives? MONITOR BREAKFAST: About 3,400, I'm sorry. I said thousand, excuse me, and you gently but firmly disagreed with me. I'm wondering if you still feel that Iraq having fallen off the front page and the inability of Iraqis to put together a workable government, do you still feel that Iraqis -- could you still give us your assessment? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, I'm increasingly concerned about their inability to stand up this government, and I, from a security standpoint, all that I see is still tracking, as it was when we last talked about this. But the politics there are, from my perspective, too slow, and they need to stand this government up. The longer that lasts, the more I and others worry about what does the future hold. So I'm hoping, and a lot of people are working it hard, particularly there. I'm hoping they can do that. There is a tremendous, from my perspective, you know, a great opportunity for the political leadership and for the Iraqi people that is there as a result of these sacrifices. I just hope they take it. DAVE COOK: John Berrian? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, China. There seems to be a debate gathering pace in this town, one faction saying China's military buildup is still minimal and essentially defensive; other people saying no, there's reason now to be more concerned. You seem to, from public comments, to fall into the latter camp. I wonder what it is that you look at particularly to give you concern about China? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, actually it's from what I don't know more than anything else. I mean their defense budget has gone up, the defense budget we can see has gone up fairly dramatically. There is ample evidence and we don't see the entirety of that defense budget and actually don't know what it is. I am concerned about some of the knowns, the anti-carrier ballistic missile that they're developing specifically. Obviously tremendous investment in the, what I would call the maritime world, particularly on their eastern seaboard, if you will. Very aggressive in the waters off their east coast, South China Sea, East China Sea. Even the water, even the Yellow Sea. That continues. You saw what happened when Secretary of State Clinton talked about, you know, a unity of effort that included us with respect to the importance of those islands, those sea lanes. There has been an assertion that, you know, we shouldn't operate in the Yellow Sea. It's international waters. We're going to operate in the Yellow Sea. I mean, for example, we and others very specifically. So it's been that concern, as they've had heavy investments, and it is from my perspective less the here and now than it is the future, you know. I mean they've had a pretty significant rise in their defense spending for a number of years, and if they -- you know, a country has a right to build its obviously defense capability, tied to its national interests, tied to defending itself. I don't have any problem with that. It's the -- it's the kinds of capabilities that will prevent others, that prevent assets, which is one of their over-arching strategic objectives, as best I can tell, although sometimes it's difficult to see what the strategy is. And then lastly, and the concern is that I can't sit down and talk to them about it, because I've got no mil to mil relationships with them. I certainly don't have an expectation I'll sit down and have a discussion with them and we'll agree on everything. But I think it's dangerous to not be able to discuss the issues, even if we agree to disagree. DAVE COOK: Cynthia Tucker. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Admiral, I have a follow-up on the Don't Ask, a two-parter. My first question is why survey rank and file members of the military on the subject if it's not something the Navy did, to my knowledge, when they made the decision to put women on submarines and just decided to do it quietly. And my second question do you fear that surveying the troops gives the impression that they have a vote on whether DADT is (inaudible)? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Actually, the reason, from my perspective, to conduct a survey is to get objective data from the people that this will affect the most. We don't have it. There isn't any data out there particularly from the military and their families. And then it is -- in that regard, that data will highlight the issues in terms of implementation, and quite frankly it will highlight the issues that need to be addressed before, from my perspective, that need to be addressed before certification, which is at least in the current version of both pieces of legislation. Now and that implementation -- the certification will be tied to, you know, a readiness to make the changed, tied to our readiness, our training, our recruiting, our retention, our unit cohesion, understanding those things. Those are very real things that we all have to deal with, and it also occurs at a time when we're fighting two wars. We've got a force that's been stretched. As magnificent as they have been and their families, they've been stretched. So that's all part of that, and that's what -- that's where I have been, Secretary Gates has been. It's important to get this and input this into the system, as we look to this change. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Are you concerned that it gives the impression that troops have a vote? ADMIRAL MULLEN: Well, in terms of that data, that information, those issues, those will be very much part of what myself and the chiefs, who run the services, look at. So in that regard, they're very much a part of the process. That's why we're hoping the law doesn't change before we have that. DAVE COOK: We want to thank you for coming very much, sir. I appreciate it. ADMIRAL MULLEN: Thanks. (Whereupon, the meeting was concluded.)