U.S. Supplies Shrinking in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

Military.com has an important article on the logistical state of affairs in Afghanistan.

The milk is now pulled from the mess hall by 9 a.m., to ration the limited supply.

At the Camp Phoenix base store nearby, the shelves look bare. There’s no Irish Spring Body Wash, no Doritos, no Tostitos Scoops, no Bayer Aspirin.

“We’re having the same problems all over Afghanistan,” said Randy Barnes, who manages warehouses for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which operates stores at many of the bases where U.S. troops are deployed in the war on terror here.

For the Soldiers at Camp Phoenix, about 650 of whom are from the Illinois National Guard, the missing supplies underscore what senior military officials have been saying for months: U.S. and coalition troops must find new routes to supply what will be a rapidly growing force in Afghanistan, ones that avoid the treacherous border areas of Pakistan where convoys have been ambushed.

Supplying an army in any war is crucial; it’s not just bullets and bombs, but everything from fuel to lettuce, that must be shipped in by the ton and the truckload. And a country like Afghanistan — landlocked, mountainous and with few good roads — poses enormously difficult challenges even without attacks by militants.

Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of U.S. Central Command, announced late last month that the military had reached transit deals with Russia and several Central Asian states to the north of Afghanistan, to provide an alternate route from Pakistan. But it’s not yet clear whether any new route would be able to absorb the heavy traffic.

“It is very important as we increase the effort in Afghanistan that we have multiple routes that go into the country,” Petraeus said …

The supply-route challenge is politically sensitive; as long as the U.S. and coalition troops depend on Pakistan to move supplies, it’s difficult to be too critical of its government’s help in the war on terror. Some in Washington have questioned Pakistan’s commitment.

But a route through Russia and neighboring countries is not necessarily a long-term solution either. The over-land route is much longer and more expensive, and dealing with repressive regimes in Central Asia also could pose political dilemmas.

This is a significant story on the state of affairs of logistics in Afghanistan, rounded off by a stupid comment at the end of the quote.  There are no political dilemmas with which to deal.  Ending every repressive regime is not in the bag of tricks that we should expect the U.S. military or the State Department to perform.  Repressive regime or not, we should make allies with the countries with whom we must deal.

This is true – except for Russia, who is still, in our estimation, an enemy posing as a friend.  It won’t take much for them to revert from being a temporary friend to being an erstwhile friend.  Maybe the switch has already begun.  When General David Petraeus recently stated that agreements had been reached for transit of supplies via Russia, he was quickly corrected by Russia.

The shocking intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can’t do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union.

within a day of Petraeus’ remark, Moscow corrected him. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Maslov told Itar-Tass, “No official documents were submitted to Russia’s permanent mission in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] certifying that Russia had authorized the United States and NATO to transport military supplies across the country.”

A day later, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, added from Brussels, “We know nothing of Russia’s alleged agreement of military transit of Americans or NATO at large. There had been suggestions of the sort, but they were not formalized.” And, with a touch of irony, Rogozin insisted Russia wanted the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan.

They are playing hard ball, as we predicted that they would.  For Afghan logistics, The Captain’s Journal has strongly recommended the route that passes through the Bosporus Strait, Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  So what do the Russians think about our proposal?

Russian experts have let it be known that Moscow views with disquiet the US’s recent overtures to Central Asian countries regarding bilateral transit treaties with them which exclude Russia. Agreements have been reached with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Moscow feels the US is pressing ahead with a new Caspian transit route which involves the dispatch of shipments via Georgia to Azerbaijan and thereon to the Kazakh harbor of Aktau and across the Uzbek territory to Amu Darya and northern Afghanistan.

Russian experts estimate that the proposed Caspian transit route could eventually become an energy transportation route in reverse direction, which would mean a strategic setback for Russia in the decade-long struggle for the region’s hydrocarbon reserves.

The Asia Times gives us the summary of the Russian position.

Medvedev made it clear Moscow would resist US attempts to expand its military and political presence in the Central Asian and Caspian regions. He asserted, “This is a key region, a region in which diverse processes are taking place and in which Russia has crucially important work to do to coordinate our positions with our colleagues and help to find common solutions to the most complex problems.”

This is political speak for the fact that Russia wants to ride the coattails of the American taxpayer and fighting men to importance in the region, and will resist any attempt of the U.S. to expand logistical routes.  Russia will be just fine with the U.S. solving its Islamic militant problem in Chechnya by fixing Afghanistan, but wants the U.S. out of the region as soon as this is done.  Another way of saying it is that the U.S. needs to hurry its preparations for logistical routes through the Caspian region.

Underscoring their commitment to hegemony in the region, Russia snared a new Naval base on the Black Sea, courtesy of Abkhazia.  Time is wasting, and the Soldiers are running out of milk, Aspirin and soap.

Prior:

Will Russian-Afghan Logistics Dictate Foreign Policy?

New Afghan Supply Route Through Russia Likely

U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership


You are currently reading "U.S. Supplies Shrinking in Afghanistan", entry #2042 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Logistics,Russia and was published February 2nd, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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