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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen on progress in Afghanistan.

“Many of our Fort Lewis soldiers are out on the front line and we are concerned about increasing fatalities.  Furthermore, gains in Marjah have not been solidified.  Can you give us any assurances?” Senator Murray asked during the hearing.

Secretary Gates responded to Senator Murray’s question by saying that they had predicted increased casualties for the summer, describing the casualties as “tragic yet inevitable.”

Admiral Mullen said that progress in Afghanistan has been slow, but steady, citing increases in schools and local Afghan government employees as signs that were moving in the right direction.