Mullen Shares Concern for Aid Workers in Pakistan

CLEVELAND, Aug. 27, 2010 — The U.S. mil­i­tary is tak­ing “sig­nif­i­cant” pre­cau­tions to ensure safe­ty for its forces and U.S. aid work­ers pro­vid­ing flood relief in north­west­ern Pak­istan, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

The Unit­ed States “cer­tain­ly would hope that all of those who are pro­vid­ing aid in this very dif­fi­cult set of cir­cum­stances would not be imped­ed,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters. 

Mullen was here as part of a three-day “Con­ver­sa­tion with the Coun­try” tour across the Mid­west. The trip is geared toward help­ing com­mu­ni­ty and busi­ness lead­ers and the aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty step up to help mil­i­tary vet­er­ans hone their skills and life expe­ri­ence as they make the tran­si­tion into civil­ian life. He met with busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers in Chica­go on Aug. 25 and in Detroit yesterday. 

The chairman’s com­ments come a day after the U.S. State Depart­ment voiced con­cern for Amer­i­can vol­un­teers in Pak­istan. State Depart­ment spokesman P.J. Crow­ley said U.S. relief work­ers there are fear­ful of a Tal­iban or extrem­ist reprisal on foreigners. 

Mullen agreed, say­ing such an attack by mil­i­tants would­n’t be a surprise. 

“I share the con­cern that was stat­ed yes­ter­day by the State Depart­ment,” he said. “I haven’t seen any indi­ca­tion that that’s hap­pened yet. But the insur­gents have no moral bounds, and that they might do some­thing like that isn’t out­side the realm of possibilities.” 

Mullen laud­ed the U.S. effort there. More than 6,500 dis­placed Pak­ista­nis have been moved to safe­ty since efforts began Aug. 5. Also, near­ly 2 mil­lion pounds of relief sup­plies have been delivered. 

The U.S. mil­i­tary has devot­ed 19 heli­copters and three car­go planes to flood relief efforts, and more heli­copters were promised today. About 400 U.S. troops are pro­vid­ing relief. 

An esti­mat­ed 20 mil­lion peo­ple could be affect­ed by the flood­ing, which has iso­lat­ed much of Pakistan’s Swat Val­ley and Peshe­war regions. 

“The floods are obvi­ous­ly huge and trag­ic,” Mullen said. “The Unit­ed States is mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant contributions.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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