Washington DC, (PT) – Sources are reporting the Pentagon has miscounted the number of troops deployed to aid in Hurricane Harvey operations. The massive underestimate follows a similar recent miscounting for troops deployed to Afghanistan. What does this mean for Trump’s White House, and do the individual miscounts hint its priorities?
According to The Hill, initial statements by US Northern Command that 6,300 troops were deployed on aid operations were hollow. Only 1,638 personnel are, in fact, deployed to aid following the massive weather event that swallowed southern Texas.
Military officials attributed the miscount to an “accounting error.” Pointing to spreadsheet mistakes being made on a rapidly organized effort. “Some people were invariably double-counted”, said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis. Doubling the actual number, however, only gets you to half of the number originally presented.
In addition to the 1,600 or so active duty US military, another 1,254 civilian contractors are deployed in relief efforts. It’s unclear at this time what exactly the contractors are doing, or what company(s) employ them.
US National Guard personnel are also in the fray, with their numbers at around 11,000. However, due to the federal government’s “accidental” miscounting of it’s troops this remains to be concretely determined. US Coast Guard also joins the personnel, allocating 42 helicopters and seven fixed winged aircraft. DoD (Department of Defense) officials claim another 1000 troops are ready to go, if needed. Reports that drones are also speeding up rescue time significantly are also floating about the info-sphere.
By contrast, The Trump Administration’s troop surge in Afghanistan is expected at around 4000 personnel. Thousands of conventional, and special operations forces can be dedicated to a 16 year war with no end in sight, no problem. The government, however, seems a bit strained to send resources to aid the unanticipated disaster of Hurricane Harvey.
The Trump Administration also caught in controversy after under-reporting the number of troops in the war torn country. According to CBS, 11,000 personnel–not 8400–are currently stationed there. With Trump’s latest surge, US troop presence in Afghanistan will officially top 15,000. Of course, that’s not including military contractors. Officials state the miscount stemmed from a method used under President Obama where “temporary duty” personnel weren’t counted.
In one case, the government under represented the number of troops engaged in America’s longest running war. Citizens are tired of the conflict, and a clear or obtainable goal appears clouded. Few were excited to hear of another surge, let alone remembering soldiers already there. On the other hand, the government over represented its response to a very present danger on the American mainland. Preventing panic and hysteria in the coming days will be crucial. If people feel help is on the way, then everything is controllable. One can’t help but wonder what good the 4000 troops sent to Afghanistan could do on American soil in rescue operations?
And to be clear, that’s twice in less than a month that the same “miscounting” problem occurred, in opposite directions. What it means is up to the reader’s interpretation. Other’s may point to any reluctance by the president to spend money on the disaster. According to NPR, nearly $8 billion is being asked of congress to help mitigate the tragedy. Now record winds of another incoming storm, Hurricane Irma, will increase the check.
Trump himself pledged another $1 million of his personal funds to aid in the crisis. However, though White House may now be back peddling on the latter, a full retraction remains to be seen. As the storm wages and invites others, the Trump Administration’s foremost priorities will surface.