The commander of operations in Afghanistan offered a grim picture about the success of the U.S. mission to senate committee today.
Fox News reports Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and said the war so far, costing more than 2,000 American lives, needs more troops and more resources to move forward, preserving hard-won security gains. He also made a pointed remark about the number of contractors required to conduct day-today business in the area of operations without the higher troop levels.
“We have roughly a two-to-one ratio of contractors to soldiers,” said Nicholson. Currently, there are 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan, which would put the number of civilian contractors at nearly 17,000. Nicholson said soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division based at Ft. Riley, Kansas, were forced to stay home when their aviation brigade deployed to Afghanistan to adhere to troops limits set under the Obama administration.
“This contract for maintenance runs into the tens of millions of dollars, and then the soldiers who are trained to be mechanics are sitting back at Fort Riley not having the opportunity to do their job. So this has a direct impact on army readiness and it also costs us more money,” Nicholson said.
There are currently around 6,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, less than ten percent of the highest troop levels of 2011, where more than 100,000 U.S. troops supported the so-called “surge” there.