By Michael O'Brien - 05/31/10 01:12 PM EDT
The oil industry remains the best-equipped to end and clean up the
massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation's top military
official said Monday.
But Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said the military is ready to take the lead in ending the spill, if President Barack Obama asks them to do so.
Gulf state lawmakers have pressured
the president to take control of efforts to end the leaking of oil from BP's ruptured deepwater well, arguing that BP has dragged its heels.
But the administration has maintained that BP is best-equipped from a technological perspective.
Mullen said he agreed with arguments that the military would bring command, control, and organization to the situation, but cautioned, "the real challenge, from my perspective, has been the technical aspect of this."
The pressure on Obama to order a military takeover of cleanup efforts may also intensify as the "top kill" maneuver to end the spewing oil failed over the weekend. BP plans next to cut a pipe, which could increase the flow of oil, in order to try to more snugly fit another containment dome over the leak.
Mullen said the military continues to be involved, but said it was up to Obama to make any final calls.
"We actually have been involved," he said. "But we have not been the lead, and any change with respect to the lead would have to be a decision the president would have to make."