Violence in Afghanistan is likely to rise as Spring comes, and the country remains the focus of U.S. national security strategy, said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a Washington press briefing, the top U.S. military officer said violence in many parts of Afghanistan will likely be worse in 2011 than it was in 2010. "We must prepare ourselves for more violence and more casualties in coming months," the chairman said. The year 2010 is the deadliest year for coalition forces. Independent count put coalition deaths there over 700, and U.S. deaths near 500, nearly a third of the ten-year war. Despite the grim outlook, Mullen touted President Barack Obama' s strategy in Afghanistan, particularly on the security side, noting the numbers of U.S. troops and civilians, allied trainers and combat forces, Afghan army and police trainees all increased in 2010. Mullen said he was somewhat surprised at seeing increased security around Kandahar, the southern stronghold of Taliban. He said now is time to press the advantages gained in Afghanistan and to redouble efforts as "gains we have made are tenuous and fragile, and can be lost." Obama's strategy in Afghanistan revolves around the deployment of 30,000 additional troops. In releasing the administration's review of his war strategy late last year, Obama said he was committed to the beginning of U.S. troops drawdown in July, 2011, but noted for the gains to be sustained over time, "there is an urgent need for political and economic progress in Afghanistan." With U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan set to start decreasing in July and given the goal of fully transferring security to Afghan forces by 2014, the United States must continue to build a strategic partnership with Afghanistan, said Mullen.