By Riaz Sohail
BBC News, Karachi,6 October 2010
• Up to 80% of Nato supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan
• Majority are driven 1,200 miles (1,931km) from port of Karachi to Kabul via Khyber Pass
• 1,000 container lorries and tankers travel daily through the pass to Kabul
• Khyber Pass is 53km long (33 miles) and up to a height of 1,070m (3,444ft)
• About 150 lorries go via the southern supply route through Chaman to Kandahar.
Phi Beta Iota: Now here is the big picture. First, never get in a fight on the Asian landmass. Our politicians do not read a lot and can be considered very isolated from both reality and history. Second, understand your supply line vulnerabilities. This story tells the tale of the very contractors being hired by NATO bombing their own trucks, in part to conceal the fact that the trucks are near empty when bombed–they are optimizing profits three ways: sell and then burn; reimbursed for old trucks as if new; and premium pricing for risk they create themselves. Doesn’t get much better than this.
POSTSCRIPT: The US and NATO are stuck with land routes because the US Air Force has for decades refused to be responsible for long-haul airlift at the same time that the US Army has been logistically insane and built a force that is not air mobile. We could not do a Berlin Airlift today, nor can we lift the minimal needed forces to a distant theater in anything near the Marine Corps 911 standard that we defined in 1992: a platoon with two Cobras in 24 hours, a company with Harriers in 48, a light battalion landing team with organic air in 72, and a full up Marine Amphibious Brigade in 96 (four days). The Navy is not much better, big ships and few of them mean that the Navy remains 5-7 steaming days away from anywhere that matters, and when they get there, they are out-gunned by Third World coastal artillery and missiles and have no Naval Gunfire capabilities because a series of Marine Corps Commandants have rolled over and played dead for the sake of getting along with the Chief of Naval Operations. Bottom line: US global strategy is non-existent; US force structure is incoherent, and the people responsible for it, past and present, lack integrity in the holistic sense of the word.