VOL. 23 - NO. 33
SEP 16 - 23, 2018
PO BOX 13283
OAKLAND, CA 94661-0283

510.595.7777 FAX

Joint Forces Journal is published privately, and in no way is connected with DoD, the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. This website and the printed newspaper are intended for the members of the Armed Forces and their families. Contents do not necessarily reflect official views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard, and do not imply endorsements thereof. The marital status, physical handicap, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor of the purchases, user or patron for advertisers prohibited. If a violation or rejection of this equal opportunity policy by an advertiser is confirmed, the publisher shall refuse to print advertising from that source until the violation is corrected. Editorial content is prepared and edited privately, and is provided by the Public Affairs Office of U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard installations. Correspondence and material for publication should be addressed to: Editor, Joint Forces Journal, P.O. Box 13283, Oakland, CA, 94661-0283. Deadline for receiving articles and photos is 3 p.m. Monday for publication on Friday of that week. Joint Forces Journal editorial policy is to use bylines and photo credits where applicable and when submitted.

Military Response in Puerto Rico Delays Deployments to Afghanistan

Oct 06, 2017
by Oriana Pawlyk and Richard Sisk
The military's major commitment of aircraft and ships to Puerto Rico hurricane relief has delayed the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan, according to a top Pentagon official.

"There has been a slight delay," and "it will take time to build up the force in Afghanistan," Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the Pentagon's Joint Staff Director, said at a news conference.

At the request of Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, with White House approval, has ordered the deployment of "more than 3,000" troops to join the 11,000 already on the ground in Afghanistan.

Mattis has declined to give a specific number on the troops to be deployed to Afghanistan, but senators from both sides of the aisle said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing -- where Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford testified -- that about 3,500 troops would be committed.

Neither Mattis nor Dunford argued with the 3,500 estimate. Mattis declined to say when the troops would begin to deploy, saying only that it will happen "in the coming months."

Dunford testified that the military's responses to Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey could have an impact on troop deployments worldwide into next year.

At the Pentagon news conference, McKenzie said troop deployments to Afghanistan will be "slightly delayed by ongoing relief efforts."

He did not give an estimate on how long the delay would last, but said there is "a finite number of transport aircraft the U.S. has. That will inevitably slow movement to other theaters."

However, "the orders are being assigned" for the eventual deployment, and "there will be minimal delay to the strategy," McKenzie said.

The new strategy for Afghanistan came under pointed questioning at the SASC hearing from Republicans and Democrats.

The senators said they had difficulty understanding how the addition of about 3,000 troops to bring the total to approximately 14,000 would have a significant impact on the course of the war when more than 100,000 on the ground in 2012 did not result in the Taliban's defeat.

Sen. John McCain, the committee chairman, said in his opening statement, "At the most basic level, we still do not know how the president's new strategy will better enable us to achieve our stated objectives.

"In short, at present, it remains unclear why we should be confident that this new strategy could turn the tide in Afghanistan or bring us meaningfully closer to success than its failed predecessors," he said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Mattis,"The best I can tell, this new strategy is just more of the same -- you've just removed the timetable.

"That's what bothers me," Warren said, adding that Mattis appeared to be saying the U.S. is "willing to continue to fight the Afghan war forever, and that just can't be right."

Mattis said Afghanistan is not a "forever" war, but acknowledged that U.S. troops could still be there 10 years from now. He said troops must remain to prevent Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven to attack the U.S.

The SecDef also said the rules of engagement are being changed to allow more extensive use of airpower and to allow U.S. troops to be involved in what is essentially "combat duty" by moving closer to the front lines in smaller Afghan units to call in airstrikes.

At the Pentagon, McKenzie said the Afghanistan delay must be measured against Mattis' order that "we're all in" on Puerto Rico relief.

"There's just going to be downstream effect when you make those decisions," he said, "but American citizens are involved in Puerto Rico and it's a very high priority for this department."

When asked about a potential cascading effect on global operations, chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said, "This is a building all about plans. We do what we have to do.

"We are prepared for all contingencies. It is not the first time we've had natural disasters and deployed forces. Again, it's a minor delay," but forces will still flow to Afghanistan, she said.

Air Force officials have acknowledged that Air Mobility Command has been stretched thin responding to three hurricanes in quick succession.

Well before the hurricane season, AMC commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II warned in March that airlift capacity had to be increased to meet the demands of the operational tempo.

He said the service is working to upgrade its current C-5 Galaxy fleet and maintain its C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, but noted the shortfall in the aircraft available.

"Just a few years ago, we had 112 C-5s. Today, we have 56," Everhart told congressional staffers during a demonstration day last month at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

* * * * *

Photo caption: Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team patrol a village in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)


Coast Guard Cutter Returns Home Following Participation in RIMPAC

Army's Cold War-Era Apache Gunship Will Fly 30 More Years, General Says

Navy's F-35C Suffers 1st Major Mishap, Costing Millions in Damages

TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Presents Groundbreaking Musical Memoir “Fun Home”

Navy, Air Force Team Up to Get to Bottom of Oxygen Deprivation Among Pilots

TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: Oakland Zoo to Host Exciting Upcoming Events

Marines Want New Headset That Will Amp Up Battlefield Sounds

TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: Classic Film Musicals from the Golden Age of Hollywood Return to the Bankhead Theater in September

TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: A.C.T. to Present Pulitzer Prize-Winning Drama “Sweat”

Army Eyeing Strategic Cannon Tech with 1,000-Mile Range