"The people behind that deadly day are still at it. They live and plan and train in safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border," Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
"They would like nothing better than to see either country or both fall prey to the grip of an extremist ideology. To the degree we let them succeed, we let ourselves become vulnerable," Mullen said in his address to the 91st annual American Legion Convention, Louisville, Kentucky.
"My mission, the one currently given to me by the President, is to prevent that from happening. And that's what we're going to do," Mullen said.
While Pakistanis are themselves waging their war against extremists, Mullen said, in Afghanistan, the war being waged to defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies is led by an international security force with Afghans.
"We have got to help them. That is why I ordered the establishment of a Pakistan-Afghanistan coordination cell, inside my own staff, to work exclusively on the issues of that region, to stay engaged," Mullen said.
The Pentagon has established a special training facility to train army officials exclusively for Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Believe it or not, it's easy to lose focus in the Pentagon. And to rotate officers in and out, not only of Afghanistan in general but the specific areas within the country, so that they can become familiar faces and names, so they can build trust," he said.
"The unique challenges of irregular warfare are highly complex; a struggle for the people's confidence. So in today's fight, as leaders, we must show a sense of urgency. We must engage with resolve. And we must be patient to reap the benefits of our work together," Mullen said.