WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2011 — U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan will receive the supplies they need to perform their missions regardless of Pakistan’s closure of its border with Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said today.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little and Navy Capt. John Kirby hope that Pakistan will reopen the border between the countries and return its troops to the border coordination centers. The centers are designed to avoid incidents like that of Nov. 26 when NATO ordnance accidently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The two spoke during a Pentagon news conference.
The war effort in Afghanistan continues unabated by the closures, Little said. “We’re well-aware of the closures and potential impacts,” he said. “To date, there’s been no significant impact to our ability to provide for the war effort. That being said, we do believe that these are important supply routes, and we hope that in the near future they can be reopened.”
Good logistics systems are among the crucial factors for success in any military operation, and redundancy is key to logistics. About 30 percent of the supplies to NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan travel through Pakistan. Other routes are taking up the slack.
NATO International Security Assistance Force commander Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen “is comfortable” with his supply situation now, Kirby said. “So there have been no major muscle movements to alter the flow of logistics,” he said.
Kirby also discussed China and reports that Chinese leaders have ordered their navy to be operationally ready. This does not mean that China is girding for war. “Nobody is looking for that kind of conflict with China,” he said.
Navies exist to protect the national security interests of their countries, Kirby said.
“All navies have to be ready for operation; our navy is ready for operations,” he said. “We certainly wouldn’t begrudge the Chinese government from wanting to ensure that their navy was fit for sea.”
U.S. military relations with China are improving. Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, has just left China after holding defense consultative talks with military and governmental leaders there.
“This is a country that we have been trying very hard to develop a good, constructive military relationship with,” Kirby said. “We’re taking steps in the right direction, and it is moving in the right direction.”
The peaceful rise of China is not only good for the region, it’s good for the world, Kirby said.
“This is a country that we want to have a good, constructive, productive relationship with,” he said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)