Lifeline to Victory — The concern with logistics and supply can–in wartime–suddenly turn from exact numbers and cold calculations to chaos and hot, flying lead in combat. This scene features LTC Richard N Batchelder Chief Quartermaster for the Second Corps. The fierce Confederate raider John Mosby and his partisan rangers struck frequently and violently, but Batchelder personally commanded his men in fighting them off, insuring the constant delivery to the army of food for the men and forage for the animals. For his tireless actions and distinguished gallantry, LTC Batchelder was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The beans and the bullets and the go-juice must get through. Some times it has to be fought through.
When I worked at KAF I responded to many a call around dark time at the Container Reception Point because the Romanians guarding the place had knocked off leaving a gaggle of unescorted Host Country National (usually Pashtun) and Third Country National (Pakistani passport-holding Pashtun and Punjabi) jingle truck drivers on our hands. What I know about what goes on between Karachi and Kandahar I picked up during the interminable wait for the Base Defense Operations Center to get Force Protection out to come police these guys up. Some of it I picked up from drivers, some from our guys in the yard, some from our terp, and the rest I’m guessing. All anecdotal, but T.I.N.S.
Karachi is the Sea Port of Debarkation for Operation Enduring Freedom. The place where they unload the boat. Karachi is for OEF what Shuaiba, Kuwait is for OIF, and the Main Supply Route, or OEF’s Route Tampa up from Karachi, is 759 klicks. 472 miles of bad road, shake down, extortion, break down and delay. The drivers get jacked around at Karachi by Pakistani Customs, the Pakistani version of the Teamsters, the trucking company they contracted with, and all the various trolls setting up road blocks for the collection of protection money, and then they get to sit in a parking lot at Chaman waiting to cross over to Spin Boldak. Things go boom in the night in that parking lot. By the time they got to us, a lot of them were a bit testy. Some times they wanted to fuss at us over what ever shaft they had got or abuse they had suffered on the way. They exaggerate to pull on your heart strings with the most pitiable ordeals imaginable, but some of that was indeed happening. Neither the U. S. Army, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, Canadian Forces, British, Romanians or Dutch military escorted these jingle trucks until they got through Spin, and often not even then. Some times they weren’t even part of a convoy. Just a lone truck, a driver and his alternate lifestyle partner diddy-bopping on up the road.
This situation may be changing. The Bagram Regional Contracting Center, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan seeks information pertaining to the availability of convoy support within the private industry. This would involve the capability to provide armed convoy protection that covers Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The contractor shall ensure that all convoys consist of at least one (1) English-speaking expatriate for every gun truck that will be used.
That won’t be a job. That’ll be an adventure.
But where does the Red Ball Express fit in? That’s what I was thinking of when I started this post.
See also Listen to your Loggy Toads.