Friday, October 1, 2010

In AfPak: Closed Borders, Dwindling Supplies

From June 1948 to May 1949, the Soviet Union closed ground access to the city of Berlin in an effort to gain control of the divided city. During that period the Allied forces flew over 200,000 sorties, hauling about 13,000 tons a day into the beleaguered city. It cost the Allies 101 lives and $2 billion in today’s dollars, but it succeeded. Is it time to get ready for the Bagram Airlift?

According to news reports, following an incident in which Apache Helicopters moved into Pakistani airspace after receiving effective ground fire and in keeping with the rules of engagement, “Within hours, Pakistan closed the vital ISAF supply line that runs from Karachi, Pakistan, through the fabled Khyber Pass to the Torkham crossing. About half of ISAF supplies come through Torkham and the southern Spin Boldak crossing, according to the U.S. Central Command.” Most FOBs maintain a certain number of days of supply of various classes of supply in order to be able to continue operation.

This action by the Pakistani government threatens the mission and highlights the absolute need for self sufficiency in our forward areas. Our days of assured supply and safe rear areas are behind us. What better example of the vulnerabilities we face in the long war than this? The products of the Marines’ ExFOB and the Net Zero Plus JCTD need to get into the hands of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. This is an area that requires rapid acquisition of systems that will provide our troops independence from political whims as well as tools necessary to continue the mission.

As frantic diplomatic engagement goes on, 30 days of supply of beans, bullets and benzene go by very quickly.

Picture courtesy of

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