Troops Get Supplies Despite Pakistan’s Border Closing

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)

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