Moving On From Our Dependence On Pakistan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

Our dependence on the lines of logistics through Chaman and the Khyber Pass, as well as Pakistan’s duplicity towards the U.S., are well-worn issues with regular readers.  The Northern logistics routes are in increased and expanding usage due to the troubles in Pakistan.

Image courtesy of EagleSpeak.  The magnitude of the challenge is well described for us by Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek, deputy commander of the U.S. military’s Transportation Command.

“This is the logistics challenge of our generation” … “The challenge of my father’s generation was escorting convoys across the north Atlantic when we didn’t know how to do that very well. Convoys in 1943 would lose 16 of their 32 ships. The Army had their challenge supplying Patton in his race across France, keeping him resupplied. Supporting operations in Afghanistan is our generational challenge.”

For the first seven years of the war in Afghanistan, almost all supplies and equipment were shipped by sea to the Pakistani port of Karachi. From there, they were trucked overland to Afghanistan, through parts of Pakistan effectively controlled by the Taliban.

In 2008, according to Harnitchek, the U.S. military lost as much as 15 percent of its supplies in those areas due to ambushes and theft. Establishing another supply route became a top priority.

Near the beginning of 2009 I explained the necessity for the Northern logistics route, and described it in detail.  The routes shown above come close, but still rely on Russia and fail to engage Turkmenistan.  I recommended that we develop a route “through the Caucasus region, specifically, from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey, and from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.”

I explained the urgency of the situation, and also described in subsequent posts on logistics how reliance on lines of logistics through Russia could affect the outcome of New START as well as endanger Georgia and cause another Russian incursion into the Caucasus (Ossetia and beyond).  Yet we are still lethargic concerning full development of the Northern logistics routes.

The urgency is still present, and we continue to see further examples of Pakistani duplicity.

As targeted killings have risen sharply across Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials believe that many are the work of counterintelligence units of the Haqqani  militant network and Al Qaeda, charged with killing suspected informants and terrorizing the populace on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Military intelligence officials say that the units essentially act as death squads and that one of them, a large group known as the Khurasan that operates primarily in Pakistan’s tribal areas, has been responsible for at least 250 assassinations and public executions.

The Haqqani network is, of course, coddled and enabled by the Pakistani ISI.  For some inexplicable reason the otherwise clear thinking Bing West comments concerning this report that:

The administration has to adopt a tough, transactional negotiating posture with Pakistan.

What is this song of enchantment that Pakistan continues to sing to its disappointed suitors?  Is it nuclear weapons?  There is the need for robust Pentagon war gaming concerning the securing of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, as I have described.  Is it the belief that more negotiations will convince Pakistan not to support the Afghan Taliban?  Is it the belief that Pakistan isn’t really controlled by Islamic fundamentalism, or that the Army isn’t preoccupied with fabricated and delusional notions of danger from India?

Whatever it is, we are years behind schedule in divorcing ourselves from Pakistan, whether concerning logistics or reliance on their internal security over their nuclear arsenal.  The Obama administration is “scrambling to repair” relations with Pakistan, as I would have expected.  But leaving the juvenile and moving to the adult, when even most knowledgeable analysts are suggesting that we need to take a tough negotiating stance and repair relations with Pakistan, we have a problem.

These relations with Pakistan never really existed.  Pakistan’s ultimate aim has never changed, even though the campaign has evolved.  Pakistan wants its high-powered insurgents (e.g., the Haqqani network) in order to effect change in Afghanistan (on its whim) and convince India that it is a force to be reckoned with, Kashmir or elsewhere.  Pakistan isn’t an ally of the U.S., and never was.  It’s time to stop pretending that they are.  It is always difficult to face the truth, but time is short and the situation is dire.

All monies should cease, lines of logistics should shift completely to the North, and in the future if Pakistan wants to engage the U.S. as an ally, it must start over and prove itself.  We must always negotiate from a position of strength, as we learned from Sun Tzu.



  • http://www.firstcontactproject.org/ Warbucks

    Thank you for using the maps in your presentation. They are often time consuming to track down and really help understand your presentation.

    From a purely strategic standpoint it would be extraordinarily useful to develop any trans-Russian route to highlight triangulation of power for China. I wonder what price would have to be paid?

    It’s hard to imagine any move through the Caucasus in an election year.

  • carl

    It is not too likely that we will ever really acknowledge the truth about Pakistan. To do so would raise too many questions and embarrass too many people people in high places, both military and civilian. How could they account for their having been fooled for a decade and more? It is much better for them to continue to pretend until we pull out of Afghanistan. Then people will quickly forget the whole thing, the questions won’t be asked and nobody important will be made to look bad.

    That is the prime directive, that nobody important look bad. Our soldiers or the Afghans who die are not as important as not violating the prime directive. Both parties and most of the high ranking military are complicit in this. I would have thought our country would have produced some strong, ethical leaders who would have changed this situation or at least told the truth about it in the last 10 years, but I guess we don’t have those kind of people anymore.

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » It’s Time To Engage the Caucasus Part III

  • Joie

    Carl the problem with the strong leaders is that they are not corrupt. Therefore after not being able to change things in office end up leaving, just because they can’t change anything. The corrupt idiots have control and have no plan of ever letting go of that power. My son within a few days will be headed to afghanistan to hunt down those so called high value targets, and what I read here scares the shit out of me. I agree that we should take a very hard stand with Pakistan but then again there are a lot of hard stands we need to make with countries that say they are with us. If we can get the corrupt, assholes out of office and high places, get good honest people, that would serve office freely, not paid. Then maybe just then we might get somewhere on more fronts then one. God bless all those men and women who have served this country. We may not always agree where they are going or why but we should always, always back them.

  • carl

    Joie:

    The problem of a morally corrupt leadership class is at the heart of most of our problems, not just Afghanistan. I don’t know how to solve it. The Americans aren’t morally corrupt but our leaders are. We had better figure out how to change this or there is real trouble coming.

    The military leadership is a special and worse case in my view because loyalty is a plainly stated military virtue, one of the fundamentals of military organizations. We supposedly value that above almost all things. But it goes both ways. Leaders have to be as loyal to their subordinates as to their superiors. But they aren’t. Once our officers get high enough rank, they don’t care about their men anymore. They only care about what will please their superiors. Why is it that multiple stars transform people into dishonest dog robbers? High ranking officers who really care about their men should have been raising public hell about the Pak Army/ISI for years but they have not only remained quiet, they have actively participated in furthering the lie. Your son will obey orders as he as sworn to but his generals won’t cover him, only use him. It is like Santa Ana has become the model for the modern American general.

  • TS Alfabet

    Carl,

    Couldn’t agree more with your point about the lack of attention given to the actions of the Pakistanis. I would add to that the same point about Iran. It seems almost unconscionable to me that general officers could possess such a wealth of irrefutable intel that clearly shows, for example, the ways in which Iran killed U.S. forces in Iraq and A-stan and not do more to ensure action is taken. If the political leaders, Pubs or Dems, refuse to back our troops and stop this nonsense then resignations, en masse if necessary, are in order. Better to resign in protest on behalf of your subordinates than to keep your job and see those same subordinates needlessly killed.


You are currently reading "Moving On From Our Dependence On Pakistan", entry #7979 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Logistics,Pakistan and was published December 1st, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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