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Thread: Supply routes to Afghanistan

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Northern route works?

    Cavguy,

    Maybe some are saying, as you stated:
    Heard that through deals w/Russia and the Stans, 70% of our Afghanistan logistics now comes from the north rather than through Pakistan. That is a change that has occurred over the last 6-12 months.....For those thinking along those lines, I imagine that's what we got when we traded the missile defense in East Europe. Seems a good deal to me.
    Elsewhere and from SWJ daily roundup: Russian Deal on Afghan Supply Route Not a Deal Yet - Peter Baker, New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/14/wo...s.html?_r=1&hp.
    When he met President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in April, President Obama sought to open an important new supply corridor for Afghanistan by flying American troops and weapons through Russian airspace. Visiting Moscow in July, he sealed a deal for as many as 4,500 flights a year, in what he called a “substantial contribution” to the war and a sign of improving relations with Russia. Seven months after the idea was raised and four months after the agreement was signed, the number of American flights that have actually traversed Russian airspace? One. ....For eight years, the American military has struggled to find and maintain reliable supply routes into Afghanistan, but Mr. Obama may send more troops in a single order than at any point in the war, straining the system.
    I don't doubt that people and some supplies can be flown into the 'stans', but enough heavier items and particularly fuel cannot. Now maybe we can buy fuel locally from the 'stans'?

    I'd like to some references to the Northern route having such capacity (70% cited). Karachi remains IMHO the port and the roads northwards.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-14-2009 at 11:58 AM.
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  2. #62
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Russian (Northern) route to open

    A small item that suggests that the Russian route has yet to open: http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/2009-170-32.cfm

    Airplanes en route to Afghanistan carrying U.S. cargo will start flying over Russian airspace in the near future, the ambassador said.
    davidbfpo

  3. #63
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Cavguy,

    Maybe some are saying, as you stated:

    Elsewhere and from SWJ daily roundup: Russian Deal on Afghan Supply Route Not a Deal Yet - Peter Baker, New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/14/wo...s.html?_r=1&hp.

    I don't doubt that people and some supplies can be flown into the 'stans', but enough heavier items and particularly fuel cannot. Now maybe we can buy fuel locally from the 'stans'?

    I'd like to some references to the Northern route having such capacity (70% cited). Karachi remains IMHO the port and the roads northwards.
    The key is that the Pakistan route was previously the preferred route. The switch - if it happens - is obviously a deterioration.
    No matter whether the cost was political, fiscal, prestige, timeliness, security or whatever - the supplies would most likely have flown primarily through the Northern route if it wasn't the worse route initially.


    We should re-learn the lesson that the logistical challenge isn't only about putting the needed amount of supplies through the logistics channels; it's also about keeping the logistical requirements low.
    That's something at which Western forces did in my opinion fail badly post-'45.

    Imagine the West would have been forced to fight the Vietnam War using the Ho Chi Minh trail instead of the ports. We would have a much smaller logistical footprint today.

  4. #64
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    CSIS, 10 Nov 09: The MAGAI™ Construct and the Northern Distribution Network
    ....The MAGAI™ Construct presents a unique way to capture the transcontinental, indeed global, dimensions of instability in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. The MAGAI combines two post–Cold War strategic realities:
    • A Modern Activity Gap (MAG) precariously positioned in Central Asia that acts as a barricade to the flow of deepening economic interdependencies that circumnavigate the northern hemisphere; and

    • The Arch of Instability (AI), a zone of unstable conditions from the Middle East to South Asia first identified by Zbigniew Brzezinski nearly 30 years ago. This post–Cold War instability has gained a firm foothold in the MAG where its risks are magnified by Islamic extremists seeking to overthrow weak regional governments as well as foment terrorist acts around the globe.


    The MAG exists in stark contrast to the rapidly evolving economic conditions to its east and west. Rooted in the MAG, unstable conditions meet an inexorable demand to connect Europe with Asia across a new land bridge, the modern Silk Road (MSR). Along the MSR, transcontinental tensions among the world’s largest economies, competition for access to resources and routes, and a radical Muslim agenda merge.

    In this environment, CENTCOM’s Northern Distribution Network pursues options for Afghanistan resupply by involving a wider group of linked partners along the MSR. To meet the demand signals from increased force levels engaged in higher levels of sustained combat, supporting transport infrastructure and processes need to be improved, security needs to be maintained, and sensitive political conditions must be considered. Addressing the immense challenges and the opportunities across the MAG is an imperative, and tools that help the experts to visualize, quantify, and analyze the MAGAI™ Construct are badly needed....

  5. #65
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
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    Default Very good find ...

    This is an extremely good find, and I appreciate your bringing this to our attention. This is a more sophisticated version of my own arguments in:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/...-the-caucasus/

    and:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/...oreign-policy/

    Russia has keen interest in the Caucasus for more reasons than one (they have assets and basing rights in Armenia that are essentially cut off without access through Georgia). Further, the oil and natural gas supplies in this region are enormous.

    Serious engagement of (and political and military ties with) the Caucasus would be a smart, forward-thinking, audacious way both to ensure logistics for a larger force in Afghanistan (thus avoiding the problems associated with Karachi and the Khyber pass or Chamen), and ensure that Russia is checked in its coming re-expansion into their near abroad.

    That's why it won't happen. It's nice to think, though, about smart decisions that could be made.

  6. #66
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Northern route: a comment from afar

    Jedburgh,

    Thanks for this:
    CSIS, 10 Nov 09: The MAGAI™ Construct and the Northern Distribution Network
    Good strategic viewpoint and IMHO hopeless on what can be achieved now and soon.

    I was puzzled at the maps, the Pakistani railways are little-used, in great contrast to India; and the Karokorum Highway was a great PR scheme for China, but use for trading in volumes? No. Overland transport rarely beats slow and steady sea transport.

    Will the US DoD use Russian controlled and influenced land routes for anything but the most innocuous items? Methinks not.

    The lack of logistic support is one reason why I have questioned a larger foriegn commitment in Afghanistan. Ironically a safer way is via Iran, an even more prickly political issue, but not a logistic issue!
    davidbfpo

  7. #67
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Overland from afar

    Fom SWJ daily news round-up:
    The U.S. and NATO have already started using Georgian ports, rail lines and roads to transport nonlethal supplies to Afghanistan.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...490533738.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-19-2009 at 06:16 PM.
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    Default Gwadar/Pipelinestan

    No matter how you slice any of this, the route to the South, through Pakistan, is the most needed, most basic access route.

    Back to Baluchistan.

    Lately, Afghan promotion of concepts to exploit its natural resources (all along that corridor) are predicated on this route and system that doesn't exist.

    Economic Geography 101.

  9. #69
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    CSIS, 17 Dec 09: The Northern Distribution Network and the Modern Silk Road: Planning for Afghanistan’s Future
    The authors of this report set out to assess the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which the U.S. military is establishing as an additional and alternative channel for provisioning U.S. forces in Afghanistan. These new supply routes from the Baltic and Black Seas through Central Asia have provided an urgently needed supplement to the single route through Pakistan that had been used exclusively since 2001. It was also hoped that the NDN would be less subject to the armed attacks, unexpected delays, and pilferage that have hampered the movement of goods along that same Karachi-Peshawar road.

    For some years, Afghanistan’s northern neighbors have argued that they are well positioned to assist in the development of Afghanistan and also to benefit from that development. Until now, they have had no means of acting on that claim. This report argues that the NDN offers the best vehicle to date for organizing such engagement by Afghanistan’s neighbors. The adjustments to the NDN proposed here will build connections based on the genuine mutual interests of Afghanistan and its neighbors, which will in turn ensure the longer-term security and viability of the northern
    supply routes.....

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    We should re-learn the lesson that the logistical challenge isn't only about putting the needed amount of supplies through the logistics channels; it's also about keeping the logistical requirements low.
    I routinely make this argument. I wrote my last paper in college about the need for increased fuel efficiency and conservation, essentially arguing that about 80% of fuel consumption (and therefore about 40% of all logistics inputs by weight) is unecessary at current force levels, and that a reduction in logistical inputs could reduce personnel requirements, since logistics requirements compound over time in a "snowball."

    This idea doesn't make me the most popular guy around...

  11. #71
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Planning ahead?

    Seth B,

    One would hope that the logistic planners have a contingency plan for the loss or restictions being placed on the various touted overland routes into Afghanistan. Even that thought is applied to reducing the amounts shipped would help.
    davidbfpo

  12. #72
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    Default

    One would hope so.

    I like to check up on the DoD Energy Blog because it has a lot of information about how the military uses energy.

    Since about half of everything that DoD moves by weight is fuel, I think this is relevant to this thread.

    Bullets and beans make up a small portion of what is transported.

  13. #73
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Trucks attacked in Karachi

    The first time IIRC of NATO / US supply trucks attacked there:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/wo...html?ref=world
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  14. #74
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Default

    I've seen it in the news before - I remember catching a story a while back that saw insurgents cruising around in hijacked Humvees.

  15. #75
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default NATO loses 0.1% in Pakistani transit

    Within a far wider article on Pakistan-US relations this snippet for here:
    Convoys bringing supplies for the NATO mission in Afghanistan used to be preyed on frequently by terrorists and thieves; but as a result of the improved security, NATO is now losing only about 0.1 percent of the goods it ships across Pakistan.
    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/op...l?pagewanted=1
    davidbfpo

  16. #76
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default As if by magic

    From the Daily Telegraph:
    Suspected Taliban armed with petrol bombs and rockets attacked a terminal in the tribal district of Khyber before dawn on Monday, torching eight tankers used to supply fuel to Nato forces in Afghanistan, officials said....The tankers had recently returned from supplying Nato troops in Afghanistan...
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...rty-rally.html

    A more political target:
    At least three people have died after suspected militants attacked the US consulate in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar.
    Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8603288.stm
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    Default Kyrgystan

    Nightwatch reports today that the government has fallen to opposition, which now controls the Parliament, Presidential Palace, and TV/radio. Manas Airport is closed.

    The President fled in his plane, but has not yet resigned.

    The several straws through which resources are sipped into Afghanistan are more constricted today.

  18. #78
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    Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, 22 Jun 10:

    Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan
    ...The findings of this report range from sobering to shocking. In short, the Department of Defense designed a contract that put responsibility for the security of vital U.S. supplies on contractors and their unaccountable security providers. This arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others. Not only does the system run afoul of the Department’s own rules and regulations mandated by Congress, it also appears to risk undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan.

    To be sure, Afghanistan presents an extremely difficult environment for military operations, logistics, and business practices. Nevertheless, the evidence indicates that little attention was given to the cost-benefit analysis of allowing the system to continue in a fashion that injected a good portion of a $2.16 billion contract’s resources into a corruptive environment. The ‘fog of war’ still requires a direct line of sight on contractors.

    This report is confined to the facts pertaining to the Host Nation Trucking contracts, and in that limited sphere there are constructive changes that can be made to the U.S. supply chain in Afghanistan to improve contracting integrity while mitigating corrupting influences. This report offers some realistic recommendations to serve as a catalyst for what appears to be a much-needed reconsideration of policy.....

  19. #79
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The Northern route

    An IISS Strategic Comment: 'Northern route eases supplies to US forces in Afghanistan', which reviews the route, plus map, graph and more.

    Link:http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...n-afghanistan/
    davidbfpo

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    Default Northern Routes Being Targeted

    A somewhat recent issue of PBS's Frontline touches on how the Taliban and their allies are trying allocate more resources to the north to counter this shift in convoys.

    Link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...banlines/view/

    Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi journeys deep into the insurgents' territory as they attempt to sabotage an important new American supply route and open up a dangerous new front in the north.

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