So yesterday my plan was to wrap up work in time to get to the gym and be on the treadmill for POTUS to address the nation on his Af'stan plan.
Then I got an email from DOD that there would be a roundtable afterwards and I accepted. Even though it meant I had to stay at my desk.
Was it just that I didn't want to go to the gym?
So anyway, I watch the speech on the Pentagon Channel. I have the transcript in another window. I ends just in time for me to run to the ladies room and then the kitchen for a cup of tea - I was still at the office.
Then the Blogger's Roundtable. 21 bloggers. 2 guests. 30 minutes. You know the math didn't work.
Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable with David S. Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia; and Brigadier General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Director, Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff
You can click here for a link to the story which in turn contains links to the transcript and audio of the call.
I got in early which means I got a question in, many didn't. But there was no chance at follow-up.
I was third and I warned Andrew Lubin from Leatherneck Magazine not to cut me! LOL
My question -
LT. CRAGG: Thanks, Leo. Let’s go to Maggie. Maggie, you’re next.
Q Hi, General. Do you see the NATO contribution making up in any part for the at least 10,000 troops that we didn’t get tonight?
GEN. NICHOLSON: We’re estimating between five (thousand) to 7,000, in terms of contributions from NATO and other ISAF troop-contributing nations. So most definitely, that will help with the effort.
Then Mr. Sedney chimed in -
MR. SEDNEY: And I want to stress that this is not a situation where we didn’t get any number of troops. What we’re sending to Afghanistan by next summer, by the end of next summer, will be more troops, more quickly, than any proposal that has been before the president. And this came out of that process that General Nicholson mentioned that was deliberative, that looked at what was needed.
And to sort of refer back to the earlier question about the speed with which we’re doing it, yes, that’s going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be a real challenge for our people who do logistics. The point here is to reverse the momentum.
So what we’re doing here is we’re going to be putting into the hands of General McChrystal more troops, sooner, in order to have the impact on the momentum of the Taliban -- to not just blunt that momentum, but to reverse that and, at the same time, do that partnering with the Afghan forces that starts to allow us to transition more to them.
The troops that the allies will be putting in and the fact that NATO has looked at the requests from -- (inaudible) -- is asking for and is getting very positive response on additional troops is very heartening.
So what we will have is we’ll have the troops that are necessary in order to achieve the goals that we’ve set, but are somewhat refined. They’re more focused than the goals that we’ve -- (inaudible) -- this with, starting back in March, as a result of this examination, as a result of a look at the change in circumstances.
So we have a situation here where, as a result of the process the president’s led, we have more -- a refined focus on what we’re doing and we also have a greater focus on speed and getting people in there.
As I said, I didn't get a follow up, but it would have started with "With all due respect sir...."
Come on! Everyone knows that General McChrystal asked for at least 40K - my own private sources say that was the lower end of the range given in the request.
What I didn't get in the speech. What I didn't get in the roundtable. What I haven't gotten in the follow up coverage everywhere is....how was 30K arrived at.
General McChrystal knows a thing or two, that's why he was put in charge. He was asked to give his opinion. Obama overruled that. Based on what? I want to know. A process was mentioned. Who was involved? What was their formula?
And to add insult to injury, I was put in the uncomfortable position of defending certain aspects of the speech to Michael Graham in multiple emails during his radio show today. As usual, his responses were very funny.
From CDR Lippold, USN (ret), former CO of USS Cole -
USS Cole CDR Lippold Statement on Afghanistan Troop Decision
He also appeared on the radio to discuss The Speech and the Gitmo detainees. Audio here.