5 years ago
From The New York Times:
Senior White House advisers are frustrated by what they say is the Pentagon’s slow pace in deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and its inability to live up to an initial promise to have all of the forces in the country by next summer, senior administration officials said Friday.
Tensions over the deployment schedule have been growing in recent weeks between senior White House officials — among them Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, and Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff — and top commanders, including Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior commander in Afghanistan.
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One administration official said that the White House believed that top Pentagon and military officials misled them by promising to deploy the 30,000 additional troops by the summer. General McChrystal and some of his top aides have privately expressed anger at that accusation, saying that they are being held responsible for a pace of deployments they never thought was realistic, the official said.
Other White House officials said to be frustrated by the deployment pace include Thomas E. Donilon, the deputy national security adviser, and Denis R. McDonough, the national security chief of staff. “Gates and Mullen made a clear statement that this would be achieved by summer’s end,” a senior administration official said, referring to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Last month in Kabul, Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the deputy commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, did not back away from that schedule, but he told reporters of the difficulties he faced even in getting all the forces in by fall. He said that bad weather, limited capacity to send supplies by air and attacks on ground convoys carrying equipment for troops from Pakistan and other countries presented substantial hurdles.
“There’s a lot of risks in here, but we’re going to try to get them in as fast as we can,” he said at the time. “There’s a lot of things that have to line up perfectly.”
On a visit to Afghanistan last month, Admiral Mullen pressed military logisticians on how they would be able to meet the schedule. But even Admiral Mullen, who said he was “reasonably confident” that the logistics would work out, acknowledged the tall order before the military, saying, “I want a plan B because life doesn’t always work out.”
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday that the military was moving as rapidly as it could and that reports of tension with the White House amounted to a “fabricated and contrived controversy.” Mr. Morrell said that “the preponderance of the forces will be there by the middle of the summer and we are moving heaven and earth to get all of them there by the end of the summer.” He added that the Pentagon anticipated “that 92 percent of them will be there by the end of August and we hope to even improve upon that.”
But military officials acknowledged that they were taken aback by the president’s initial insistence that the troops be in place within six months. Last fall, military officials repeatedly said that it would take as long as a year to 18 months for all the troops to be in place.
You would think something as important as logistics in a land-locked country had been addressed and analyzed before. Yes, I’m sure it has. I very sure. I’m very, very sure. I’m certain it has. I’m very certain. I’m VERY, VERY CERTAIN. It’s just that the idiots at the White House won’t listen to the Milbloggers.
Logistics rules. The logisticians tell the Generals what to do, and not even the President overrules them. It’s just the way it works. Military logisticians will meet the schedule or they won’t. Either way, more histrionics at the White House won’t change anything. The Obama administration is now trafficking in a world where reality matters.
But there is one more thing. The hollering and objections for lack of timeliness of a man who wasted precious months considering the alternatives to more troops in Afghanistan rings rather hollow. It’s a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.