KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2010 — Media coverage is inadequate to convey the scope of the floods that have ravaged Pakistan for more than a month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen yesterday toured flood-stricken areas of Pakistan with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani army’s chief of staff.
During this morning’s flight from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad to Kabul, Mullen told reporters he was taken aback by the scope and the massive scale of what he saw.
“The pictures [and] reporting just don’t capture it,” the chairman said. Along with his own observations of flooded areas, he added, a briefing slide Kayani showed him helped him to understand the disaster’s magnitude.
“It said that effectively it’s like flooding the entire East Coast of the United States,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a considerable amount of time to recover from that.” The chairman said Kayani told him 70,000 members of the Pakistani military are engaged in the flood response effort, and no reserve call-up has been necessary. Mullen added that he asked the Pakistani general whether insurgent activity had picked up with the military focusing so much attention on the floods, and that Kayani told him no significant outbreak of insurgent activity has taken place.
“I [also] asked about the support from the charitable-organization fronts for the extremist organizations,” Mullen told reporters, “and he said, ‘Not much.’ ” The chairman said Kayani explained that while those organizations do a pretty good job of strategic communications, they haven’t had much of an impact.
Mullen said Kayani asked for satellite imagery taken before the flood began so current images and images taken after the waters recede can be put together in a database for purposes of comparison, but that the Pakistani general made no other requests.
Earlier this week, the chairman emphasized the U.S. commitment to provide whatever support or assistance the Pakistani government requests and said he believes a significant, sustained commitment from the international community almost certainly will be required to help Pakistan recover. More U.S. helicopters and ships should arrive in about a week, he added.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)