Professionals study logistics.
Logistics in the Afghan Campaign has become a popular topic of discussion over the last several days. More people are noticing that our Line of Communcations between our Sea Port of Debarkation and our logistical support facilities at Bagram and Kandahar is very long, very rough, and very insecure. I’ve been a voice in the wilderness, unheard on a low-traffic blog, sounding this warning for a while now.
Nine months ago I implored war fighters to Listen to your Loggy Toads.
Nine months ago I warned about the vulnerability of Spin Boldak, the alternative to Torkham.
Seven months ago I noticed a pattern of Blockade of our Cl III.
Six months ago we discussed this at The Belmont Club.
Three months ago, in Red Ball Express Rides Again?, I blogged of a private enterprise approach to fighting through support across a not-quite-sovereign ally’s territory.
Last month I declared that We Can’t Logistically Support A Surge in Afghanistan, unless we pull a bunch of caveated, salsa-dancing NATO fobbits out and replace them with an equal number of ETT’s and PMT’s.
Ever since the Uzbek dictator Karimov kicked us out of K2 in 2005, OEF has been living on borrowed time, logistically. We lost our theater Class I collection point and distribution center, as well as access to European rail via Russia. American soldiers in Bavaria between 2002-2005 could load up their connexes and milvans on 5-tons, drive on down to the bahnhof, turn them over to the DB and expect them to arrive at their new FOB in the Hindu Kush safe and sound. I was there twice. Friends of mine were sent up there for the close out, which wasn’t pretty.
Some people like to claim that the Afghanistan Campaign was starved of logistical support because the eeeevil Bush wanted to send every thing to Iraq. Not exactly. Afghanistan has been starved of logistical support in comparison to Iraq, because it is a side show, an economy of force theater, and has been from the beginning, because logistically supporting a large American army on the opposite side of the planet far inland from the sea is too hard even for us. It is so hard for reasons of geography, topography, ethnology, criminology and technology that even the nation that put men on the moon can’t do it except at exorbitant cost. Saddam’s misfortune was that bin Laden got away, and we could logistically support major operations in Mesopotamia.
People in various blog comment sections think OEF can be sustained by air. ’Fraid not. Bagram and Kandahar are the only major aerial ports of debarkation/embarkation. They have finite ramp space, and when they go Black on Class III, planes quit coming, or they come in light because they have to carry fuel to get back to Kuwait or Qatar or Dubai. The aviation infrastructure for another Operation Vittles just isn’t there.
We came to get bin Laden. We stayed because lily pads at KAF and BAF were good clue bats with which to whomp Islamabad, Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, New Delhi, Bishkek, Tashkent and Dushanbe up side the head. Maintaining these two super FOB thumbs in the eye of the regional powers was the mission after Tora Bora. They made great places to run the Special Forces Olympics out of. Beijing and Moscow saw our clue bats and raised us an SCO, outbribing us with Karimov so we lost K2 which put all our logistical eggs in Musharraf’s basket. He actually did an adequate job of keeping the LOC open, but he’s out now, and his successors aren’t earning their bribes.
I expect the next Commmander-in-Chief to declare Peace With Honor and bug the hell out, leaving lots of expensive stuff behind. I was 19 when Saigon fell. I know what that did to my Army. I dread what the Fall of Kabul will do to it.
Russia has agreed to allow Germany to send military equipment over Russian railroads to Afghanistan.
Uzbek leaders are reportedly seeking a high price for their cooperation
UPDATE 200812030003: Pakistani Taliban hit NATO convoys for third consecutive day
UPDATE 200812072045: Taliban storm two Peshawar trucking terminals, 160 NATO vehicles torched
UPDATE 200812131406: Taleban tax: allied supply convoys pay their enemies for safe passage
UPDATE 200812200350: All roads lead out of Afghanistan