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Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator08 Jun 2012, 12:11 am
ABSTRACT: Though, for the time being, Pakistan may not open the NATO supply line as it has pegged its national pride to its demand to stop US drone attacks, an unconditional apology as well as a hike in the transit fee, all of which has been rejected by the US. For its part, the Pakistan Army also wants the pre-conditions set up by the PCNS to be met. This in fact has left very little room for the civilian government to manoeuvre. Apart from the loss of transit fees, Pakistan stands to lose out from reduced, if at all any, US payments as CSF (Coalition Support Funds). For the Pakistan FY 2012 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) Pakistan had originally budgeted for a flow of about $ 1 billion as CSF assistance. In reality it did not get any CSF funds during FY 2012. Now the Pakistan budget for FY 2013 has once again assumed a CSF inflow of more than $ 1.2 billion. Unless it opens its GLOC, it is very unlikely that the US will transfer any CSF during this fiscal year as well. This will create serious trouble for the Pakistani economy which is dependent on US aid.
Though Pakistan formally decided to re-open the NATO supply route, confusion continues to prevail about its future course of action. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar justified the decision to re-open this route by saying “It was important to make a point, Pakistan has made a point and we now need to move on and go into a positive zone and try to conduct our relations.” She further said this decision is in line with Parliament’s recommendation. This statement drew criticism from the opposition political parties and most importantly from the disruptive forces such as the Difa-e-Pakistan which have dared the government to open the route. Though the military was part of this decision, it has maintained public silence over the issue saying that any decision on the supply line must conform to the recommendations of the Parliament Select Committee on National Security (PCNS). The PCNS asked for an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside Pakistan; no hot pursuit and non-violation of Pakistan’s territorial and air space for transportation of arms and ammunition to Afghanistan. The forthcoming national election to be held sometime this year has made the decision even tougher for the Pakistan government. However, Pakistan and the United States continue to negotiate on the opening of the route. As Rabbani Khar stated yesterday, “what is at stake is much more important for Pakistan than just winning an election.”
Tension between the US and Pakistan has been brewing over a period of time. The US decision to initiate dialogue with the Taliban, the Raymond Davis episode, Pakistan’s refusal to grant visas to US counter terrorism officials, the US suspension of aid, the Abottabad raid, the attack on US Embassy in Kabul in which a Pakistan-based terror group was involved, have all contributed to the tension and to increasing suspicion about Pakistan’s commitment. The Salala incident only brought these tensions out into the open. Pakistan retaliated by closing the NATO supply line and asking the US to vacate the Samsi air base. A Parliament Committee was formed to dwell on Pakistan’s relations with the US and the future course of action. For its part, the US also held an investigation into the incident and found that it was a case of wrong intelligence input in which Pakistan had equal blame to share. Pakistan’s demand for an unconditional public apology was refused. Six months after this incident not only is there no sign of the US tendering an unconditional apology but US drone attacks inside Pakistan have continued. Given the stalemate, the question is how dependant the two countries are on each other; an answer to this question would determine how long the current impasse is going to continue.
Pakistan is heavily dependent on the Unites States to even to plan its budget for the next financial year. According to a news report, Pakistan also budgeted US $1.34 billion on account of coalition support fund (CSF) reimbursement. The payment of around $2.5 billion, which Pakistan was supposed to receive from the CSF, has been withheld since December 2010. Pakistan’s economy is in a bad shape. It continues to depend heavily on US funds for budgeting its expenditure and repayment of loans. Last year, the US cut $800 million in aid for the Pakistan military. This year the Senate Panel has voted to cut aid by 58 per cent. The Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund/Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCF/PCCF) has now been reduced to $50 million and it is now tied to opening of the supply route. This leaves Pakistan with a few options. Yet, the stance that Pakistan has taken over the Salala incident has strengthened the hand of ultranationalist and extremist forces which do not bother to take the economic situation into account.
At the same time, the US dependence on Pakistan has now reduced. It is only dependant on Pakistan to take out the heavy military equipment it has deployed in Afghanistan as the drawdown occurs. Already, logistics for the troops in Afghanistan is being taken care of through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). The following provides an overview of the NATO supply routes to examine as to what extent Pakistani Ground lines of Communication (PAKGLOC) are indispensable for the drawdown in 2014.
Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC)
When the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and committed US ground troops to that country, it faced some major logistical problems. Afghanistan is a landlocked country. In addition it is a very poor underdeveloped country, classified as a LDC (Least Developed Country), with very little industrial capabilities and capacity to sustain by itself the presence of any Western troop deployment. As a result the US military command had to make arrangements to bring into Afghanistan almost all of the items necessary to sustain the military presence there— construction materials to house the troops, subsistence items such as food/produce/rations and personal demand items, fuel and energy supplies, medical supplies including hospital facilities, in addition to the unit items of the posted troop formations such as vehicles, communication equipment, etc. Given the peculiar geographical environment of Afghanistan, anything coming into Afghanistan must first transit, by surface or over air, one or more neighbouring countries. Since none of the neighbouring countries were US military allies, the US rules required that all sensitive and classified cargo be flown into Afghanistan on military or commercially contracted aircraft. All other cargo was to be shipped via surface routes.
Cargo to be transported
The logistics of getting troops and equipment is a very complex undertaking. Either before, or worst concurrently with, troop deployment, bases had to be set up with housing and associated facilities along with hospital facilities, storage facilities for fuel, aircrafts, vehicles, etc. These one-time requirements are formidable. For instance, the 30,000 troop surge required the US Logistics Command to transport more than 4000 containers in a very short time after the announcement. In addition, the unit items associated with the deployed units too had to be transported including the mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) family of vehicles for the deployed troops.
Other materials to be supplied on a regular and sustained basis are sustenance items (Food, produce, rations etc), pharmaceutical items, personal items (cigarettes, snack foods, soaps, etc). Obviously the amount of such material to be shipped into Afghanistan will depend on the US force level there. Figure 1 below gives the troop build up in Afghanistan from November 2001 to May 2012. As can be seen from the figure, till the end of 2006, the US troop presence in Afghanistan was below 20,000 and even afterwards it was built up to about only 32,000 by the end of 2008 until President Obama’s inauguration. Immediately thereafter, in February 2009, Obama announced the addition of some 22,500 troops to augment the US presence in Afghanistan. By November 2009 the number of US troops in Afghanistan rose to 68,000, when President Obama announced that an additional 30,000 troops are to be sent to Afghanistan as part of the surge. By the end May 2010 the US troop concentration had reached a level of 100,000. The surge troops were to be redeployed by the end of September 2012. By March 2012, some 10,000 had already been redeployed and the rest are expected to be redeployed by the end of September 2012.
Figure 1: American Troops Deployed To Afghanistan
Source: Afghanistan Index, May 16, 2012, Brookings
Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication
Given the relatively low level of deployment at an almost steady level, for the first seven years of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2002 to end 2008, the US Department of Defense transported material over sea to one of two Pakistani ports—Karachi and Muhammad Bin Qasim—and from there trucked them to one of the border crossing locations—Torkham and Chaman—for delivery in Afghanistan. This route amounted to 1005 of the surface supplied materials and about 80 per cent of all materials supplied; about 20 per cent of the supplies were moved by air. While tens of thousands of containers and assorted rolling stock were successfully delivered on these routes, the Pakistan ground lines of communication (PAKGLOC) represented a single point of failure in an increasingly fragile region. By end 2008, cargo making the 10-day journey was notoriously vulnerable to attack by Taliban militants, particularly on the Khyber Pass, which traverses the restive tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. For instance, on 18 November 2008, the Taliban conducted a raid on 23 commercial trucks delivering NATO supplies in the Khyber tribal area and again on 7 December 2008, insurgents launched the single biggest assault on US supplies in seven years, destroying 160 trucks at two Pakistani terminals near Peshawar. In December 2008, 12 per cent of Afghanistan-bound freight crossing Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province en route to the Khyber Pass disappeared, most of it in flames, according to Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek, deputy commander of the US Transportation Command (TRANS COM).
Northern Distribution Network (NDN)
The concept of the NDN originated in August 2008 when the US CENTCOM Commander asked for northern ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Afghanistan to augment vulnerable supply routes through Pakistan. In 2009, the US expanded transportation corridors for distribution of materiel to forces in Afghanistan—what is now referred to as the NDN. The NDN team contracted end-to-end movement of non-lethal cargo with three US flag carriers using the full spectrum of multimodal transportation along established routes. While primarily a GLOC, the NDN is actually comprised of three components: 1) Surface lines of communication (LOCs), 2) Air LOCs, and 3) Local procurement of supplies from NDN host nation partners in the region. The first shipment of US cargo on the NDN was completed on 14 March 2009, on a route that originated in Riga, Latvia, and continued through Russia into Afghanistan.
Riga was the primary point of embarkation in the Baltics initially. However, subsequently, the NDN has now expanded into a series of robust routes that traverse Europe, the Caucasus and the Central Asian States into Afghanistan in addition to a surface route to transport military equipment from Iraq through Turkey that merges with the NDN for onward movement.
The Russian NDN route:
•Route: Riga-Moscow-through Russia-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan (Border at Termez)-into Afghanistan
◦By truck: Uzbekistan (Border at Termez)-Kabul: 538 km.
◦By rail: Riga- Termez: approximately 4020 km
◦Total: 4560 km
The Georgia Route (via Poti)
•Route: Poti-Baku (Azerbaijan)-Aktau (Kazakhstan)-Uzbekistan (Border at Termez)- into Afghanistan.
◦By Truck: Poti-Baku- Approx. 800 km; Termez-Kabul- 538 km
◦By rail: Aktau-Termez -1689 km
◦By ferry: Baku-Aktau – 402 km
◦Total – 3429 km.
The Pakistan GLOC
Karachi-Torkham (Pakistan Border) = 1762 km
Transit times: (average)
NDN Russia Route: 98 days
NDN Caucasus route: 122 days
PAKGLOC: 78 days
Cost: On average, NDN costs are approximately double the costs of PAKGLOC. The average cost of transport of a 20’ container through PAKGLOC is around $ 8300 (2010).
Source: US TRANSCOM, “Northern Distribution Network (NDN) Fact Sheet”
As explained earlier, till early February 2009, PAKGLOC handled 1005 of the surface transportation into Afghanistan. The first NDN shipment was made in March 2009. However, the tempo picked up rather quickly with the monthly total for the NDN surpassing 3000 containers/month by June 2010 (Figure 3).
In the period October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011, TRANSCOM moved 42,380 twenty-foot container equivalent unit intermodal shipping containers through the NDN network, delivering 268,771 short tons of cargo—a 88 per cent increase over the previous year.
In late 2011, a US Senate Foreign Relation Committee report stated that
“Since 2009, the United States has steadily increased traffic on the NDN, a major logistical accomplishment that has resulted in a series of commercial air and ground routes that supply NATO and U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Close to 75 percent of ground sustainment cargo is now shipped via the NDN. According to U.S. Transportation Command, an estimated 40 percent of all cargo transits the NDN, 31 percent is shipped by air, and the remaining 29 percent goes through Pakistan.”
However, the situation has changed dramatically since then. In November 2011, Pakistan closed all PAKGLOC to express its displeasure over the Salala incident which resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Consequently, for the past six months, 100 per cent of all ground sustainment cargo is being shipped via the NDN. With the strength of US troops set to decline further by another 20,000 or so by end September 2012, it is clear that the NDN will be fully capable of handling all ground sustainment cargo to Afghanistan now and in the future. Not only has the US TRANSCOM been able to successfully bypass the Pakistan closure of the PAKGLOC, this closure seems to have had no impact on US troop operations in Afghanistan. The usage of multimodal transport network, according to the US TRANSCOM annual report, has helped to save a total of $485 million since 2010. TRANSCOM is now considering using Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania as a multi-modal port for moving passengers and equipment into and out of Afghanistan.1 
In recent hearings before the Congress and at his press conferences, Gen. John Allen was quite specific in his answers to queries on the effect of Pakistan’s closure of the PAKGLOC. In response to the query “What has been the impact of the closure of the supply lines? And now that you’re in the spring fighting season, is that closure going to have a greater impact?, Gen”. Allen replied:
“The ground—closure of the ground line of communication has had no impact on my campaign. In fact, there—in the many different measures of stockage levels, if you will, of some of the key supplies that we measure—fuels and food and ammunition, et cetera—my stockage levels are higher today than they were on the 25th of November. It’s an example, I think, of the great strategic logistics capabilities of the United States and our allies that we were able to both sustain the campaign without the ground line of communication and to sustain the future with respect to our military operations.”
“No, it will not. It will not.” (in response to a specific query “So even — it (Pak closure) will have no impact on your spring campaign?)”
It was not surprising, therefore, that Gen. Allen was quite emphatic that “I don't need the (ground supply lines) to be open to support the campaign…….. We don't want an agreement fast, we want an agreement that's right. So we're going to take the time to get it right.”
So what is the relevance of PAKGLOC to the US campaign in Afghanistan? As shown above, it is quite irrelevant for inward movement of any ground cargo into Afghanistan. However, with the US set to wind down its operations in Afghanistan by mid 2014, PAKGLOC may be of some help for shipping out some equipment. As Gen. Allen remarked at a meeting, “But they're helpful to us in sending home our equipment.”
However, even that is contingent upon Pakistan realising in time that its GLOC has a limited shelf life. Already, the first reverse transfer of material out of Afghanistan through the NDN has taken place. In March 2012, the US military sent its first retrograde shipment along the reverse KKT route as part of its drawdown of military forces. Earlier, in December 2011, the US concluded a bilateral agreement with Uzbekistan “on the procedure for ground transit of cargo shipped from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan” including “on procedures for transit through the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan of motorized wheeled armoured vehicles (not fitted with weapons).”
It has been reported that Pakistan is holding out on the PAKGLOC to extract additional funds from the US; it is reportedly asking for $ 5000 per container. This effort is likely to backfire if the opening of the PAKGLOC is postponed indefinitely. According to a briefing made by the US Department of Defense to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers, Pakistan earned $ 160 million in FY 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009) and $ 100 million in FY 2010, the drop being due to the increased use of the NDN. On the other hand, according to press reports, the US Department of Defense makes approximately $ 500 million in payment annually in transit fees to Central Asian states participating in the NDN.
Though, for the time being, Pakistan may not open the NATO supply line as it has pegged its national pride to its demand to stop US drone attacks, an unconditional apology as well as a hike in the transit fee, all of which has been rejected by the US. For its part, the Pakistan Army also wants the pre-conditions set up by the PCNS to be met. This in fact has left very little room for the civilian government to manoeuvre. Apart from the loss of transit fees, Pakistan stands to lose out from reduced, if at all any, US payments as CSF (Coalition Support Funds). For the Pakistan FY 2012 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) Pakistan had originally budgeted for a flow of about $ 1 billion as CSF assistance. In reality it did not get any CSF funds during FY 2012. Now the Pakistan budget for FY 2013 has once again assumed a CSF inflow of more than $ 1.2 billion. Unless it opens its GLOC, it is very unlikely that the US will transfer any CSF during this fiscal year as well. This will create serious trouble for the Pakistani economy which is dependent on US aid.
Sixty years of US Aid to Pakistan, 1948-2010, (millions, constant 2009 US$)
-Source: Guardian, as cited in Murtaza Haider, “Can Pakistan Survive without US aid?”, Dawn, 15 February 2012.
The US is Pakistan’s largest bilateral donor contributing more than 50 per cent of bilateral aid followed by Japan, Germany and United Arab Emirates. The US alone provided a total of $5.4 billion in FY 2010, making Pakistan the second largest recipient of US aid after Afghanistan. In addition, $700 million was separately provided as humanitarian aid. US aid will remain a major factor in Pakistan. Opening of the NATO supply route will remain the lynchpin of US-Pakistan relations as the drawdown nears.
1.  US TRANSCOM, Annual Report, 2011, p. 7.
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Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator12 Jun 2012, 6:25 pm
Cargo lines through Pakistan need to reopen for the U.S. to bring troops and equipment back on schedule as the war draws down, the top general of Transportation Command told a Senate panel Tuesday.
Despite increased support from European, Central Asian and Baltic countries to open the Northern Distribution Network to Afghanistan, the U.S. and allied forces need the Pakistan Ground Line of Communication, or GLOC, as the drawdown in Afghanistan ramps up, Gen. William Fraser said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“With the amount of equipment we need to move ... we need the Pakistan GLOC open,” Fraser said. “Because of the large numbers that we are talking about that we need to bring out in a timely manner.”
TRANSCOM moved an average of 40 percent of cargo through a network of truck, water, rail and air routes — approximately 27,000 containers in 2011, he said. While this was an increase of 15 percent from 2010, the U.S. moved more than 35,000 containers through Pakistan by ground transportation before the border was closed in November. The governments that agreed to the Northern Distribution Network have given permission to move armored vehicles and other eligible commodities, but not weapons, Fraser said.
In the meantime, Fraser said, the NDN is adequate and airlift crews are identifying and moving excess equipment from Afghanistan now.
“As every aircraft goes in, if it has pallet positions, if it has capacity on it, then we are making sure we put something on that aircraft and bring it back out,” Fraser said.
TRANSCOM is also working with commercial agencies to get around the closed border. In November, 39 ships with hundreds of containers headed for Afghanistan were diverted to Dubai and Aqaba, Jordan, where they were stored and airlifted into Afghanistan, Fraser said in his testimony.
Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator12 Jun 2012, 6:33 pm
Posted : Tuesday Mar 6, 2012 17:05:09 EST
Getting 23,000 troops out of Afghanistan later this year will be a major challenge unless the Pakistani government reopens the ground-based supply lines that were shut down more than three months ago.
“The withdrawal out of Afghanistan, we do need the ground line of communications through Pakistan,” Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, chief of the U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.
Mattis said he will fly to Pakistan next week to talk to top officials there about reopening the two key supply lines, which once served as the conduit for about 90 percent of all non-lethal supplies for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.
The Pakistanis shut down two major border crossings in late November after NATO aircraft attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan, killing as many as 28 troops. U.S. officials say the incident stemmed from miscommunication between the NATO and Pakistani forces.
In recent months, the U.S. has shifted the majority of its non-lethal supplies to run through the so-called Northern Distribution Network, a far longer and costlier set of routes that run from the north of Afghanistan through central Asia and into Europe.
Logistics troops in Afghanistan have begun preparing for the drawdown by packing every plane that leaves the country, Air Force Gen. William Fraser, chief of the U.S. Transportation Command, told the Senate committee last week.
“As every aircraft goes in, if it has pallet positions; it has capacity on it, then we are making sure that we put something on that aircraft and bring it back out, in order to maximize that lift and try to get ahead as best we can,” Fraser told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 28.
The U.S. only recently obtained permission to ship supplies out of Afghanistan using the Northern Distribution Network. For years, the countries involved — including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan —allowed gear to travel only one-way into Afghanistan.
“We now have two-way approval to move equipment back out of Afghanistan,” Fraser told the lawmakers.
President Obama ordered 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan at the end of last year, bringing troop levels down to the current force of about 90,000. An additional 23,000 are slated to leave later this year.
Mattis said he will finalize plans for that drawdown in April.
Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator04 Jul 2012, 11:19 pm
Even with the reopening of critical supply routes from Pakistan, the U.S. military confronts a mammoth logistical challenge to wind down the war in Afghanistan, where it must withdraw nearly 90,000 troops and enormous depots of military equipment accumulated over the past decade.
Assuming Pakistan doesn’t seal its border again, U.S. and NATO commanders still face the prospect of pulling out at least a third of the cargo from northern Afghanistan on a winding, makeshift network of railways and roads that cross the former Soviet Union.
Those routes carry strategic risks of their own. Access to the transit lines depends on the whims of several authoritarian Central Asian leaders as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, a longtime nemesis of NATO. Moreover, the cost of shipping goods along the northern routes is about triple that of the much-shorter Pakistani lines.
The only other option for departing landlocked Afghanistan is by air — an even more expensive alternative, costing up to 10 times as much as the Pakistani ground routes.
All told, U.S. military logisticians are preparing to bring home 100,000 shipping containers stuffed with materiel and 50,000 wheeled vehicles by the end of 2014, when U.S. and NATO combat operations are scheduled to cease.
The U.S. military has increasingly relied on the supply lines that cross the former Soviet Union to deliver cargo into Afghanistan since those routes opened in 2009.
After Pakistan sealed its border in November to protest a U.S. airstrike that killed 24 of its soldiers, the U.S. military shifted about 60 percent of its supplies to the northern routes, with the remainder arriving in the war zone by air. Although delivery disruptions were largely avoided, the move resulted in extra expenses of about $100 million a month.
The importance of the northern routes will become even more acute when the traffic is reversed. By the end of September, 23,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan, along with a commensurate amount of materiel.
At first, Russia and several Central Asian countries approved deals that let the Pentagon and NATO deliver “non-lethal” supplies — no ammunition or armored vehicles — into Afghanistan, but provided no mechanism to withdraw the equipment. They also opened their airspace for transport planes carrying troops.
The deals “focused on the needs of entry and didn’t address the needs of exiting,” said Martha Brill Olcott, a Central Asia specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “All of this changed after Pakistan closed down.”
Over the past several months, the Obama administration and NATO have signed two-way transit deals with many of the former Soviet republics. But negotiations continue over a host of side issues, including alternate routes, access to airspace and airports, tariffs and restrictions on what kinds of military cargo are eligible for shipment.
“These countries know it’s the last chance, it’s the last negotiation, so they’re going to squeeze very hard,” said Alexander Cooley, a Barnard College professor and expert on U.S. military relations in Central Asia. “They can escalate their demands in the confidence that this is a one-off transaction.”
Even with Pakistan reopening its border, the northern routes are seen as a vital hedge against a Pakistani change of heart.
From the north, there are two primary ways out of Afghanistan: either by rail into Uzbekistan or by road into Tajikistan. Both are authoritarian countries with checkered human rights records.
Beyond that, shipping convoys — which are run by private companies — must cross Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, with most of the land routes then entering Russia before zigzagging to ports in Siberia or on the Baltic Sea.
Negotiating with the Central Asians has often been as difficult as with Pakistan, according to U.S. and NATO officials. The countries distrust, compete with and often try to sabotage each other while simultaneously seeking to exact more concessions from Washington and its allies.
“They all want to play against each other,” said a senior NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced last month that the alliance had forged agreements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to allow for the withdrawal of equipment from Afghanistan.
A NATO spokeswoman declined to release details of the accords, such as transit fees, but acknowledged that weapons and ammunition are still prohibited cargo on the northern land routes.
NATO remains in talks with Russia about establishing an air hub in the city of Ulyanovsk — Lenin’s birthplace — that would accept rail shipments from Central Asia and then load the containers onto Europe-bound cargo planes.
Vice Adm. Mark D. Harnitchek, a senior U.S. military logistician who was instrumental in setting up the northern routes, said he was confident the network would remain reliable during the withdrawal.
“If you were going to design a system to come into Afghanistan, you wouldn’t do it from the north, but it’s proven to be robust,” Harnitchek, director of the Defense Logistics Agency, told reporters last week. “Those countries have all been remarkably cooperative.”
But many haven’t hesitated to exploit their bargaining power to make special demands.
In April, for example, military officials from Kyrgyzstan asked Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head of the U.S. Central Command, if the Pentagon would be willing to donate drones after its departure from Afghanistan. Mattis was noncommittal, saying he would forward the request to Washington, according to a report of the encounter by Radio Free Europe.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has sought to capitalize on its status as the only country with a rail link to Afghanistan by seeking a 50 percent surcharge on shipments leaving the war zone — insisting on a premium over what its neighbors earn.
“Everybody wants to up the prices,” Olcott said. “The Kazakhs complain that the Uzbeks get much better terms.”
She said the same regional rivalries have emerged when Washington has sought to compensate countries with used military equipment instead of cash.
“The Uzbeks complain about the Tajiks, or the Kazakhs about Kyrgyzstan, that it will just give them weapons they can effectively use against their neighbors, or against trouble in their own country.”
Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator19 Jul 2012, 2:23 pm
July 19, 2012 -
At dawn July 12, militants raided a prison guard residence in Lahore, Pakistan, leaving nine staff members dead and three more wounded. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the guards had mistreated prisoners who were members of the Pakistani militant group. The raid came just three days after militants ambushed an army camp in the district of Gujrat, killing seven soldiers and one police officer who were searching for a missing helicopter pilot. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan also claimed that attack.
Over the last two years, Pakistan has had something of a respite from dramatic attacks such as those that plagued the country from 2007 to 2010. During those years, a series of high-profile and highly disruptive attacks against police, army and intelligence targets challenged the government's ability to control the country. The attacks occurred in Pakistan's most populous province, Punjab, in cities such as Lahore and in the capital, Islamabad.
While suicide bombings and attacks in Pakistan's troubled northwest (along the border with Afghanistan) have continued apace since 2010, major attacks in Pakistan's Punjab-Sindh core have essentially ceased. The sole instance of dramatic violence involving government targets outside of the northwest since 2010 was an attack on a naval station near Karachi following the death of Osama bin Laden.
Despite the break from violence in Pakistan's major cities, many of the same conditions present during the wave of attacks from 2007 to 2010 remain. Another escalation in violence is very possible, especially in Pakistan's volatile climate and with elections coming up.
Timing of the Attacks
The two attacks (along with numerous other attacks and an attempted assassination) came the week after Pakistan formally reopened NATO supply routes through the country to Afghanistan. The supply routes had been closed for more than seven months after a deadly cross-border attack by U.S. forces in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The day the routes reopened, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan told journalists it would attack trucks carrying NATO supplies in protest.
But rather than an impetus for attacks, the reopening of the supply line is more likely a political opportunity for the Pakistani Taliban militants to promote anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. The NATO supply line is one of the most visible products of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and some political opposition groups have criticized the Pakistani government for helping Washington while the U.S. military conducted strikes killing mostly Pakistanis along the border with Afghanistan. By opposing the NATO supply line, the Pakistani Taliban militants are able to generate popular support across Pakistan.
The seven-month closure of the supply line gave NATO and the United States a chance to prove that they can use the Northern Distribution Network to bypass Pakistan. During the shutdown, there was no evidence in Afghanistan of an attempt to exploit the closed route, so it is hard to argue that the Afghan Taliban (or their Pakistani peers) gained any material advantages from the shutdown. If anything, the Pakistani Taliban militants can benefit from the supply route's opening; the trucks are easy targets for looters and can provide revenue and supplies for militants in Pakistan's northwest, and the militants can exact extortion payments from transportation companies.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's real motivation for resuming attacks in Punjab after a two-year hiatus is more complicated than the reopening of the NATO supply line. It involves a remote geographic region of Pakistan that has been dragged into the 10-year-old Afghanistan War, a struggling Pakistani economy, distrust of Pakistan's current government and upcoming elections that are seen as an opportunity to address grievances against Islamabad. Most of these grievances are the same complaints that drove the violence from 2007 to 2010, when militant activities in Pakistan peaked. Since 2009, however, military forces have moved into many of the militant havens in Pakistan's northwest, denying the Pakistani Taliban forces sanctuary. But this is not a permanent solution to Pakistan's internal rifts.
The Broader Context
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is based in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the Pakistani northwest. During the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, Pakistan and the United States used Islam as the ideological motivation to rally militias in the border region to oppose the Soviet occupation. The United States turned its attention elsewhere after the Soviets withdrew, leaving Pakistan to manage a complex network of militants. Islamabad attempted to use these militants as proxies during the 1990s to exercise influence in Afghanistan and India.
But after 2001, the United States pressured Pakistan to restrain its militant proxies in Afghanistan in order to support the U.S. war against Islamist militancy. After a few years of wavering, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did crack down on these groups' leaders in Pakistan, beginning with the Red Mosque siege in 2007. It soon became apparent that the militant groups were more autonomous than believed. By 2009, radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah claimed the district of Swat as an Islamic emirate, threatening Pakistan's territorial integrity within roughly 320 kilometers (200 miles) of the capital.
The Pakistani Taliban militants made it clear that their goal was to take over the Pakistani state, beginning in the mountains surrounding the Indus River Valley. This led the government to deploy forces to Swat in April 2010. These forces expanded their offensive to South Waziristan later that year and by the end of 2010, they had gone into every single district of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas save North Waziristan. Since the army's operations in South Waziristan, one of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's strongest sanctuaries, militant attacks in Punjab have decreased.
The United States launched operations parallel with Pakistan's, targeting Pakistani Taliban militant leaders using unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in North and South Waziristan. These strikes disrupted the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's leadership structure and likely affected the group's ability to organize, train and conduct attacks in Pakistan's core. Such disruptions would certainly affect the Pakistani Taliban militants' ability to construct and deploy very large bombs, such as vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. The attacks in Gujrat and Lahore were both simple, involving gunmen on motorcycles. Such tactics do not require elaborate training or preparation and can be staged easily in Pakistan's core.
Although its capabilities might be diminished, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has not disappeared. Fazlullah recently indicated that he and his forces are intent on retaking Swat from the military. Fazlullah and his followers based in neighboring Afghanistan's Kunar province periodically have conducted cross-border raids against military outposts in Pakistan's Dir district. Because of the continuing threat, the Pakistani military does not appear to be anywhere close to withdrawing troops from the area. Pakistan's chief of army staff confirmed as recently as July 7 that troops are staying in the northwest.
Between the international economic turmoil and the parallel dynamics of a democratic uprising and jihadist insurgency that led to the fall of the Musharraf regime, Pakistan has been in dire economic straits since 2008. Chronic energy shortages, high military spending related to the counterinsurgency campaign and revenue shortfalls led Islamabad to sign an $11.3 billion package with the International Monetary Fund three years ago. However, in the last half of 2011, the fund withheld the final tranche of more than $3 billion largely because Islamabad had failed to take steps to reduce its budget deficit. (At the time, Pakistan, sensing slightly better economic growth and an inability to comply with the fund's stringent budgetary demands, decided to pursue its own fiscal reform program.)
More recently, Islamabad has been forced to return to the IMF for a new loan arrangement to keep from defaulting on the existing loan. As with other countries implementing austerity measures in order to balance their budgets and qualify for outside help, the Pakistanis are finding that applying austerity measures hurts political popularity. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan will exploit this situation by pointing out the costs of deploying tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers to the northwest to combat militants.
Moreover, Pakistan's supreme court is challenging Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on corruption charges. Zardari faces allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars from the Pakistani financial institution when his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister.
Whether Zardari embezzled the money is somewhat irrelevant, since the case has been elevated to a political dispute between the executive and judicial branches of the Pakistani government over the limits of executive immunity and how much authority the supreme court has over the president. This is no insignificant challenge; the judicial branch politically damaged Musharraf during his presidency after he fired Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in 2007. Zardari's current difficulty with the supreme court indicates that the political struggles between the two branches have not been resolved. The rift opened up by the legal conflict allows other parties to gain political support at the expense of Zardari and his ruling Pakistan People's Party.
Even though the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan favors the adaptation of an extremely austere interpretation of Sharia to Pakistan's current legal system, it is savvy enough to see a political opening and exploit it. The Pakistani Taliban militants will use Zardari's case to paint the country's politicians as corrupt and untrustworthy. Elections are slated for the first half of 2013 but could be held as early as the next quarter of 2012, given the mounting political crisis in the country. With the political environment in flux, this is the time for various elements to assert themselves to get attention from the political parties. The stronger the Pakistani Taliban militants can make their case, the more pressure they can put on any future government to relax military deployments in the northwest.
The Military as a Temporary Fix
Many factors in Pakistan have not changed since the spate of attacks from 2007 to 2010. The United States is still trying to negotiate the terms for its withdrawal from Afghanistan, and those terms depend on Pakistan's ability (and willingness) to keep security in Afghanistan on its current track. The withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan will create a major security crisis for Pakistan, which is weakened and is racing to stabilize its side of the border before the 2014 deadline. The United States' negotiations with the Taliban and with Pakistan are not making much progress right now, but the sooner Pakistan can get militants along the border under control, the stronger its negotiating position with the United States will be. The Pashtun tribes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border -- the area from which the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan came -- will certainly want a say in matters. Without meaningful political power, these groups will use violence to negotiate with Islamabad.
And as long as there are Pakistanis displeased with the regime and the economic situation, there will be Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan sympathizers in Punjab who support more radical change. These individuals provide the network and motivation for continuing attacks against the Pakistani government.
Military deployments to northwest Pakistan have kept militants in check for the past couple of years (at least in Punjab state), but that is not exactly a long-term solution. The military was supposed to provide security in Pakistan's northwest to allow the civilian administrations to regain control of the districts. However, the federal and provincial governments have made little progress in reviving civil government at the municipal and district levels in Swat and the surrounding region. Meanwhile, the military continues to battle militants in the tribal badlands for which Islamabad lacks a political strategy, relying instead on the military's continued presence.
Domestic military deployments are rarely popular and, though sometimes necessary for short periods, eventually become self-defeating and a drain on resources. Right now, Pakistan's military presence in the country's northwest is backed only by a feeble government. The lead-up to Pakistan's elections is an opportunity for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to make its case against internal military deployments. Should Islamabad's political will shift and the military lose its advantage in the northwest, the militants could continue their campaign in Pakistan's core, returning to high-profile, disruptive attacks.
Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator31 Jul 2012, 07:22 am
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Grinning for the camera, the suicide bomber fondly patted his truckload of explosives. “We will defeat these crusader pigs as they have invaded our land,” he declared as he revved the engine.
The camera followed the truck to an American base in southern Afghanistan, where it exploded with a tangerine dust-framed fireball that punched a hole in the perimeter wall. Other suicide bombers leapt from a second vehicle and swarmed through the breach. The crackle and boom of violence filled the air.
The video, documenting a June 1 assault on Camp Salerno near the border with Pakistan, was released in the past week as a publicity blitz by the group behind the attack: the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate whose leaders shelter in Pakistan.
Even as the United States begins a large-scale troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Salerno attack, acknowledged at the time only in terse official statements, and others like it have cemented the Haqqani network’s standing as the most ominous threat to the fragile American-Pakistani relationship, officials from both countries say.
The two countries are just getting back on track, after months of grueling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan. Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, is scheduled to arrive in Washington this week for talks with the Central Intelligence Agency, in an early sign of a new reconciliation.
But the relationship still has a tinderbox quality, riven by differences over C.I.A. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt, the Afghan war and, most contentiously, the Haqqani network. The arguments are well worn: American officials say the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency is covertly aiding the insurgents; Pakistani officials deny the accusation and contend the Obama administration is deflecting attention from its own failings in Afghanistan.
But a new boldness from the Haqqanis that aims at mass American casualties, combined with simmering political tension, has reduced the room for ambiguity between the two countries. Inside the administration, it is a commonly held view that the United States is “one major attack” away from unilateral action against Pakistan — diplomatically or perhaps even militarily, one senior official said.
“If 50 U.S. troops were blown to smithereens by the Haqqanis, or they penetrated the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and killed several diplomats — that would be the game changer,” he said.
American officials recently considered what that could mean. Days after the Salerno attack, the White House held a series of interagency meetings to weigh its options in the event of a major success by the Haqqanis against American troops.
Salerno had come uncomfortably close. Although just two Americans were killed, the attackers had penetrated the defenses of a major base to within yards of a dining hall used by hundreds of soldiers.
The meetings yielded a list of about 30 possible responses, according to a senior official who was briefed on the deliberations — everything from withdrawing the Islamabad ambassador, to a flurry of intensified drone attacks on Haqqani targets in Pakistan’s tribal belt, to American or Afghan commando raids on Haqqani hide-outs in the same area.
“We looked at the A to Z of how to get the Pakistanis’ attention,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, as did other American and Pakistani officials interviewed about the issue.
Yet there were no easy answers. Officials concluded that most options ran the risk of setting off a wider conflict with Pakistan’s nuclear-armed military. “It came down to the fact that there wasn’t much we could do,” the official said. Other senior officials confirmed the broad details of his account; many noted that most contingency plans are never transformed into actions.
At the heart of the conundrum is the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, and its new chief, General Islam.
He is a largely unknown quantity in Washington, and much of this week’s trip is likely to focus on relationship building with American officials, including the director of the C.I.A., David H. Petraeus. But the tone has already been set by Congress: in the past month, both the House and the Senate have passed bills that urge Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to designate the Haqqani network a “foreign terrorist organization.”
“The Haqqani network is engaged in a reign of terror,” said Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “Now is the time for action, not simply paperwork and talk.”
The Haqqanis’ formidable reputation comes from a series of “swarm” attacks that have struck at American efforts to ensure a smooth and public transition of power to President Hamid Karzai by the end of 2014. Since 2008, Haqqani suicide attackers have struck the Indian Embassy, five-star hotels and restaurants and, last September, the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the American Embassy.
The headlines created by such violence are disproportionate to their military significance: Haqqani operations account for one-tenth of the attacks on ISAF troops, and perhaps 15 percent of casualties, senior American officials estimate. Other countries do not even consider the Haqqanis to be the most dangerous group sheltering in Pakistan, a mantle usually awarded to the more ideologically driven Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was behind the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.
Yet their success is rooted in the sanctuary enjoyed by Haqqani leadership in North Waziristan, where, at the very least, they are unmolested by the Pakistani military.
That relationship stretches to the anti-Soviet resistance of the 1980s, when the ISI funneled C.I.A. money and weapons to Haqqani fighters. The Pakistani agency continued to send funds during the 1990s, according to a new report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Today, the ISI admits that it maintains regular contact with the Haqqanis, but denies providing operational support. “Doesn’t the C.I.A. have contacts with the people it is fighting?” said a senior ISI official. “In intelligence work, you need to ingress to find out what the other side is doing.”
American and other Western officials, citing intelligence reports, say the ISI and the Haqqanis do more than just talk. Pakistani intelligence allows Haqqani operatives to run legitimate businesses in Pakistan, facilitates their travel to Persian Gulf states, and has continued to donate money. Senior Haqqani figures own houses in the capital, Islamabad, where their relatives live unmolested.
A Pakistani expert on organized crime, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Said Jan ’Abd al-Salam, a Haqqani supporter listed as a terrorist financier by the American government, lived in Islamabad’s upmarket F7 neighborhood for periods of 2008 and 2009. A Western diplomat said he had seen credible reports that the group’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, dined openly in a city center restaurant this year.
But, officials and some analysts caution, such links do not amount to ISI support for attacks on Americans. They may point to something more subtle: a containment policy that is devised to prevent Haqqani violence inside Pakistan, all the while providing a strategic card to help influence the future of Afghanistan.
“We think the Haqqani network has an ongoing relationship with the ISI,” a senior Obama administration official said. “But I am not convinced there is a command-and-control relationship between the ISI and those attacks.”
One difficulty in determining the truth is the fragmentary nature of Western intelligence: a mosaic of satellite images, intercepted phone calls and human intelligence. “It’s like on the other side of that door there’s a party going on,” said the senior administration official, pointing to his office door. “You’re trying to find out what’s going on by peeping through the keyhole, or holding a glass to the door. But you only get pieces.”
In many ways, the Haqqanis are their own masters. Although they pledge allegiance to the Afghan Taliban, they enjoy financial autonomy thanks to a tribal crime empire based on extortion, kidnapping and smuggling. They draw operational support from other groups sheltering in Waziristan, including Al Qaeda.
In that sense, several officials said, the ISI may be serving the Haqqani agenda more than the other way around. “Their interests are not always aligned,” said an American intelligence official who tracks the Haqqanis closely.
American efforts to kill Haqqani leaders with C.I.A. drone strikes in Waziristan and Afghanistan have met with little success, two senior officials said, partly because Sirajuddin Haqqani surrounds himself with civilians — often women and children — at his base in the town of Miram Shah.
The United States has long pressured Pakistan to attack the Haqqanis in North Waziristan, but the military says its forces are overstretched. “It’s not that we are unwilling to go against them; we just don’t have the resources,” the ISI official said.
But after the Salerno attack in June, the army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, privately told American officials he would launch a three-phase military operation against the Haqqanis over the coming 12 months.
Most American officials, however, say they are not counting on that promise. One remarked with a sardonic touch, “This is the most delayed campaign in the history of modern warfare.”
Udo von Massenbach Premium Member Group moderator25 Oct 2012, 11:06 pm
Francis Tusa London
There will be a “final act” in the NATO-led counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan: In 2015 or later, a logistician will place a customs seal on a container or a pallet of equipment, and it will be loaded onto a truck or an aircraft for movement to an Afghan location where it can be aggregated for shipment back to Europe or the U.S.
Signs are already emerging that the costs of this operation could well be far higher than had been expected.
Recent U.K. figures released to Parliament suggest the average cost of moving a classic 20-ft. ISO container from Afghanistan back to Britain would be £5,000-12,000 ($8,000-19,000) for a land-transported container, and £10,000-30,000 by air directly back to the U.K. or flown to a staging point and then moved by rail or sea.
This is far higher than previously released data that estimated £4,000 for a ground/rail-shipped ISO container, and £8,000 for airlift. The U.K. has somewhere around 12,000-15,000 ISO containers worth of equipment in Afghanistan, together with more than 500 vehicles. As all “warlike equipment,” or sensitive items that the allies do not want to “go missing” en route to their native countries will have to be moved by air, the costs already were high.
A rough calculation of the move for the U.K., puts it at £200 million for the container-loads, and an extra £50-75 million for outsized airlift. This compares with an original bill of “around £100 million pounds.” These calculations assume that everything runs smoothly for any drawdown, and there is not an overwhelming reliance on air movements. But that might be a tall order: 80% of all equipment with British forces in Afghanistan today was moved by air, because ground lines of communication were just not there.
Meanwhile, other Helmand-based NATO forces have 4,000-6,000 containers' worth of equipment, and 400-plus vehicles. The total U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has a footprint of some 20,000 containers of equipment, and 30,000-40,000 vehicles of all types.
The planning and execution of the drawdown are complicated by several interlocking factors.
First, since all NATO members in Afghanistan are talking about the same time frame, there is a worry among the different logistics commands that there could be “contractual fratricide”—in effect, all NATO forces will be bidding to hire the same local transport contractors, and they will be able to play each customer against the others. This happened during the U.K. withdrawal from Iraq.
Second, key airlift assets are already in short supply, making them even more important—and expensive. Antonov An-124 airlifters have been extensively used to transport outsized loads, mainly mine-resistant, ambush-protected and armored fighting vehicles into theatre—a role they will have to reprise on the way out. While there are around two dozen An-124s readily available for charter, more than a dozen NATO nations will be bidding to rent them. And they will have outside competition—they are also sought by Formula One teams to move between races, and by China-based toy and computer companies to get products to Western markets in time for the holidays.
The pressure on supply chains through the recently reopened Pakistan border crossing in Karachi, as well as the Northern Ground Line of Communications via Uzbekistan and the Trans-Siberian Railway, will only rise. All NATO nations will try to backload equipment as far in advance of the formal combat drawdown as possible, and will face congestion around the withdrawal points. The routes through Pakistan are, not surprisingly, regarded by planners as being fragile.
The building of a new passenger terminal at Camp Bastion/Leatherneck shows that planners are beginning to recognize that air transport might have to be the solution to holdups in the land routes, enemy action, and the requirements of specialized, valued equipment.
Even local disposition will be costly and difficult. Small arms ammunition is being burnt off in specially designed facilities. When this was undertaken in Iraq, the facilities were sometimes not that dissimilar from big ovens. But current facilities being installed in Afghanistan have to meet environmental standards to limit gases being released. As even 5.56-mm ammunition weighs at least 30 kg (66 lb.) per case in fully packaged form, shipping back hundreds of thousands of rounds that are no longer useable or safe represents a massive task. The British estimate that more than 30% of small arms ammunition is past safe use, and because ammunition is cheap it is just not worthwhile to manually check thousands of rounds to establish which could be salvaged.