Mullen: News Can’t Convey Scope of Pakistan Floods

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)

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