Gates: Making space for more troops in Afghanistan will be 'tough'

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday acknowledged military forces already stationed in Afghanistan have considerable work to do to prepare for a rapid influx of 30,000 more troops.

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While Gates admitted the job would be "tough," he told NBC this morning that military leaders "think they can make it work," adding, "the logistics folks are always the unsung heroes in this thing."

"Our Transportation Command and Central Command, as well as the commanders here, have been working intensely on this, even before the president made his decision, just on a contingency basis," he said from Afghanistan during his second interview with the "Today Show." "And it'll be tough, there's no question about it."

The more than 30,000 new troops the White House has recently ordered to Afghanistan could present military leaders with a series of new and costly logistical challenges.

Those forces will need more living space and require more food, and their numbers alone will mean new demands for transportation, Gates noted this morning -- all tasks that could be difficult to complete before the first installment of new military personnel arrive in Afghanistan.

While Gates assured the Pentagon was working as hard as it could to anticipate those needs, he also noted military leaders were "doing everything" in their power to ensure deployed troops would be mentally and emotionally prepared for their missions.

"We're having a lot of screening before people deploy," he said. "We are getting more people into the theater who can be helpful. Don't underestimate the importance of chaplains. They play a big role in this, as well."

"But at the end of the day, it's really about leadership and in people identifying those who are struggling, and getting them assistance as quickly as possible," the secretary added.

Gates, however, made no mention of the shooting at Fort Hood -- where suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan killed 12 as a result of what many believe to be anxiety over a future deployment to Afghanistan.

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