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Afpak strategy: build and defend supply lines to and through Afghanistan (1 Viewer)

Peter Dow

Aug 6, 2005
Reaction score
Aberdeen, Scotland
Political Leaning
OK as every general will tell you, poorly defended supply lines are a problem in any war.

House subcommittee on National Security and Foreign affairs chairman, Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass -

YouTube- U.S. funds our enemy Taliban's Afghan war

U.S. Tax Dollars Fueling Afghan Insurgency
House Investigation: Private Contractors Paying Warlords, Criminals to Get Supplies to U.S. and NATO Bases
Lara Logan reports for CBS Evening News
U.S. Tax Dollars Fueling Afghan Insurgency - CBS Evening News - CBS News

New Afghanistan railway helps Afpak strategy

Despite terrorists, Asia's trains do the locomotion with Condoleezza Rice. (YouTube)

Afghanistan to complete first railway by end of year Telegraph.co.uk

Afghanistan will complete its first ever railway by the end of the year, providing a potential new supply route for Nato forces whose convoys are being harried in Pakistan.

The 47-mile route will link the trading city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan to Asia's extensive rail network.

The £110 million railway project funded by the Asian Development Bank has already laid 20 miles of track through desert from Hairatan on the Uzbek border the deputy minister for public works said.


Developing a railway network for Afghanistan is an obvious move to develop and to secure the less mountainous areas of the country in the first place anyway. Trains are ideal on the flat - not so good in mountains though where they need expensive tunnels and vulnerable bridges.

So it is excellent to see a start has finally been made to Afghanistan's first 75-km stretch of commercial railway. :)

Al Qaeda hate trains and have attacked trains often - the London Underground on 7/7 in 2005 and the Mumbai train station in 2008 to name just two examples. So I hope NATO/ISAF are prepared to defend the trains, right?

Tierney's report shows how vulnerable our military supply routes are to and in Afghanistan and whether it is road or rail we need our supply lines properly defended by loyal troops and/or transport police otherwise our source of strength becomes a source of weakness.
Secure supply route border defences plan diagram

I have revised this plan to defend against anticipated indirect fire as well. This has involved widening the security border either side of the supply route to keep enemy mortar and rocket launcher teams out of range of the supply line.

Apparently, the Taliban are being supplied indirect fire weapons from Iran so defenders need to be prepared to expect attacks using weapons such as 120 mm heavy mortars, with a range of 6200 metres and 107 mm rocket launchers with a range of 8500 metres.

Iranian weapons getting through to Taliban

Heavy weapons are continuing to stream across the Afghan border from Iran despite Barack Obama's attempts to enlist Tehran's help in fighting the insurgency, officials have said.
So regretfully there is no avoiding the requirement for compulsory purchase of land and eviction of occupiers along a 19 kilometre or 12 mile wide corridor, the whole length of the supply route.

More aggressively NATO might like to consider long-range missile attacks against Iranian weapons productions facilities in Iran to dissuade the Iranians from supplying the Taliban.

Secure border for a supply route - 19 kilometres or 12 miles wide


Secure supply route border defences plan diagram (large - 960 x 1374 pixels)

As can be seen in the diagram, the border perimeter defences are much the same whether you are securing a railway or a road.

Diagram features. Explained for secure Afghanistan supply routes.

  • Dangerous ground Enemy forces such as the Taliban, Afghan warlords or Iranian proxies may be attacking the supply route from here
  • Vehicle barrier - deep trench / giant boulders / steep slope - so that truck bombs cannot be driven onto the route
  • STOP - Police check-point - police check civilians are unarmed and those in police or military uniform are genuine. Needs to be very robust so as to survive an enemy truck bomb.
  • Barbed wire - enough to keep out people and larger animals - so more than a horse can jump or cattle can trample over
  • No Pedestrians! Cleared ground Target zone for the machine gunners. A hostile intent should be assumed if an intruder is seen here and the intruder should be shot. The ground needs to be cleared of cover so that intruders can be easily spotted and cannot sneak their way past the machine gunners.
  • GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes 3 man crew. Armour should be able to withstand an RPG hit and contains one machine gun with an effective range to 1000 metres, such as PKM or better. One every 1000 metres on both borders should be manned 24/7. Binoculars, automatic rifles such as AK47 and night vision for 3. Two or more other gun positions per 1000 m on each border are normally unmanned and don't need the expense of real guns sitting there all the time. Such extra positions confuse attackers and serve as firing positions for mobile reaction teams to occupy in emergencies and who can bring additional weapons with them.
  • Access road Where authorised traffic and people can access or leave the supply route.
  • Mortar teams' ground Defender mortar teams arriving from mobile response depots should set up somewhere here to fire at the enemy in the dangerous ground. The mortar teams' ground should have features to help to win mortar duels with the enemy such as observation points on higher ground or tall structures to serve as observation towers.
  • Safe building ground Somewhere relatively safe to build a heliport, runway, supply store or other facility or base.
  • Supply route The road and / or railway we are defending
  • Crossing Where the access road crosses a supply route railway
  • Station - Railway station to load and unload supplies and people onto and off the supply trains.
  • Cross-roads - A four-way junction where the access road crosses the supply road.
  • Mobile reaction depot - contains single armoured fighting vehicle. This is also where the off-duty mess is so that soldiers are available to react to sustained attacks anywhere along the supply route. One every 2km. Contains additional infantry weapons and ammunition such as additional machine guns, automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers, mortars and the rest.
  • Armoured personnel carrier Such as an up-armoured humvee. Most mobile reaction depots have one of those. To transport soldiers to the proximity of the enemy attack where soldiers dismount to fight.
  • Infantry fighting vehicle or armoured combat vehicle. With stronger armour and able to fire on the enemy from enhanced weapons mounted to the vehicle, as well as able to perform the soldier transport role of the APC. Ideally the defenders would prefer the more powerful IFVs to the battle taxi APCs but fewer mobile reaction depots house IFVs because IFVs cost more and so fewer are available to the defenders than the lower performing APCs.

Railway plan for Afghanistan

Right, I knocked this railway map up in 20 minutes so don't think I am making any pretensions to be the new Isambard Kingdom Brunel but here it is anyway - see what you think. Just a suggestion - open to amendment or your better plans if you have any.

Map of proposed new railways in Afghanistan (large 1378 x 1480 pixels)

So that is a plan for about 1500 miles or 2400 km of new railway.

To secure this railway from attack by Taliban, warlord, terrorist or insurgent attack, fortified defensive machine gun nests or pillboxes would be needed every 1000 metres on each of the two borders along the railway route, closer than 1000 m where the terrain makes it easier for the enemy to sneak up close - bridges and cuttings or other cover - where you need more defensive firing angles to spot and then to stop an advance.

I propose using a dedicated Afghan railway & road supply route protection force to man the defensive machine gun positions which force would be part of the Afghan army.

I have figures for the number of Afghan army to staff the railway & road supply route protection force for a 2400km railway.

At 2 defensive positions - fortified machine gun nests or pillboxes - per kilometre - this would be a total of 4,800 defensive positions to man.

For additional security, additional fortified machine gun nests or pillboxes can be constructed which are normally unmanned. The purpose of empty defensive positions is to confuse an attacker who then may be firing at an unmanned position.

For example, if additional defensive positions are constructed, say every 200 metres, yet only 1 in 5 positions are manned then an attacker only has a 1 in 5 chance of firing at a manned position first of all.

Then 4 out 5 first attacks would miss the defenders altogether yet alert the defenders in the nearby manned positions which negates any advantage of surprise the attacker has initially.

Such additional security measures can be implemented at locations along the route where it is considered that attacks are more likely.

Such extra defensive positions can also be occupied when mobile forces arrive to respond to a sustained attack at that location.

I am assuming a 3 man team to man a defensive machine gun position at any time and to serve as lookouts.

So 3 x 4,800 = a staff of 14,400 to man the guns. Including officers to supervise, I estimate a total of 16,000 army staff on duty manning the guns at any one time.

At 3 x 8 hour shifts that is a total force of 48,000 army to defend the railway for 24 hours, 7 days a week. The off-duty staff would form a mobile reserve to respond to any sustained attacks at any point on the route and they would be best equipped with armoured vehicles to bring more fire-power to particular points on demand.

There should be enforced an exclusion border either side of the supply route which prevents anyone getting close enough to fire a rocket propelled grenade at the defensive machine gun positions. Some claim the range of an RPG can be as far as 1000 metres in the hands of a trained person, though sources vary on this question it would be cautious design to assume the need for a wider exclusion border, say 1100m on either side of the railway.

Barbed wire can help to remind civilians where not to go unless they wish to risk being shot.

For public crossing points, to cross from one side of the supply route to the other or to use a railway station, we would need to build fortified police check-points where those wanting to cross get permission from the police which is radioed to the army in the machine-gun nests when an authorised party has permission to cross.

For the crossing points, and railway stations, the police check-points would be manned by a reliable Afghan police force.

I have not calculated the numbers of Afghan police required. That depends on how many stations and crossing points you have and how busy they are, how many people need to be screened and so on and I don't have an estimate of those numbers as yet.

Now that is a lot of work for the Afghans to get busy on but better doing that than growing poppies or serving with the Taliban or warlords, demanding pay-offs to allow our supplies through, planting IEDs or becoming suicide bombers.

This is war and in war conscription is allowed. In WW2 the British men had the choice of armed service or work down the mines. The Afghan government at our demand needs to give the Afghans, especially in poppy-growing and strong Taliban-recruiting areas, where the insurgency is strong, similar war-time choices.

All with the agreement of the Afghan president of course. So we would need a Afghan president who would agree to those kind of tough measures to fix Afghanistan and if not and he was happy with poppies, IEDs, suicide bombers, civilian and military casualties then obviously such an Afghan president is siding with the Taliban enemy is violating constitutional understandings about what NATO-ISAF are demanding from Afghanistan and such an enemy president needs arresting, impeachment, removal by NATO-ISAF and there would have to be a new election for president. Hopefully it won't come to that and agreements can be reached to end this drift and chaos of supply attempted across ground controlled by the warlords and the Taliban.

After 9 years of being in Afghanistan, the US-British-led coalition, NATO-ISAF instead of having a railway and roads and secure supply routes constructed, we have 300 British dead and 1000 American dead and not much to show for it.

I prefer a more purposeful plan such as this compared to the drift we have been getting so far from the Afghan government. It seems to me we need NATO-ISAF vision and purpose and a coherent military plan to save this Afghanistan intervention from disaster.
Secure supply route protection force organisation

Secure supply route protection force

I am proposing a dedicated force within the Afghan army to secure main supply routes through Afghanistan.


Ranks in increasing order of seniority -

  1. Gunner
  2. Master Gunner
  3. Team Leader
  4. Shift Officer
  5. Depot Commander
  6. Reaction Captain
There will be higher officer ranks yet to be specified.

Duties of the ranks.

1. Gunner - infantry soldier, serves as a member of a 3-man team which serves on one GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes position normally for an 8-hour shift.

A Gunner performs other routine duties for an hour or two each day in addition to his 8-hour shift at the gun position at the nearest Mobile reaction depot under the supervision of his Team Leader, Shift Officer and Depot Commander at which location he has quarters in the depot mess.

A Gunner can also be called to emergency duty when required.

Gunners must be able to
  • see well
  • operate the machine gun
  • fire accurately
  • reload the machine gun,
  • change the barrel on the machine gun
  • use the guns' optical sights and night sights
  • use the binoculars and night-vision equipment
  • be comfortable in a GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes position,
  • point out where the No Pedestrians! Cleared ground is and where it ends and where allowed ground behind the gun positions is,
  • understand that he is forbidden to enter onto the No Pedestrians! Cleared ground on or off duty, even if ordered to do so by anyone in his team because he may be shot if he does so,
  • understand that he is ordered on and off his duty shift at the GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes position only by his own Shift Officer and own Depot Commander and he cannot be relieved of duty by his Team Leader nor by a more senior ranking Master Gunner, nor by any other Shift Officer nor Depot Commander nor by any more senior officer whom he does not know.
  • understand that while on duty he is not to surrender his personal assault rifle (such as an AK47) to any person, even to someone in his own team. Therefore his Team Leader cannot relieve him of duty nor demand that any Gunner surrender his personal weapon,
  • understand that it is the Gunner's job when on duty, his job, to shoot on sight anyone on the No Pedestrians! Cleared ground coming or going, even someone dressed in Afghan army uniform, of whatever rank who could be an intruder dressed in disguise or even be a colleague who is deserting in that direction. If he is not manning the machine gun at the time he is to use his personal assault rifle to shoot the person on the No Pedestrians! Cleared ground if they are in range, but he is not to follow in hot pursuit anyone onto the No Pedestrians! Cleared ground because again he may be shot.
  • understand pillbox defensive tactics as follows.
    Pillbox defensive tactics said:
    Sadly, the Taliban are not so obliging as to try to rush a machine gun position since one machine gun could probably take them all out if they were all to charge it clambering through barbed wire over open ground.

    The pillbox machine guns would not be used for suppressing the enemy and therefore blasting away at where you thought an enemy was to keep his head down is just a waste of ammunition and overheats the guns to no good purpose.

    The tactics to be employed for the pillboxes are different from a fight on a random battlefield where both sides are evenly vulnerable to fire and so suppressive fire make some sense.

    Suppressive fire is of use on a random battlefield to keep the enemy's head down while other comrades move to get a better attacking position. Well the defenders won't be changing position. They will keep their positions in the pillbox so suppressive fire make less sense here.

    Our machine gunners should have armoured telescopic sights and therefore only bother actually firing if you have the enemy clearly in your sights and then the first shot is the one that counts.

    Some machine guns have a single-shot fire mode with telescopic sights and those are the machine guns we need. Single-shot will most likely be the mode used most often when you spot someone trying to sneak their way past the guns or if you can see a sniper or heavy machine gunner at an effective range, say 1800 metres or less for a heavy machine gun with telescopic sights, less for a lighter machine gun.

    I seriously doubt that the enemy would ever do a mass charge across open barbed wire ground which would necessitate firing on full-auto and changing barrels but if they do then fine it is their funeral.

    So yes, the gunners would need to know how to change a barrel but if they ever do, I will be questioning their tactics.

    If an enemy is blasting away from a machine gun at extreme ineffective range - 2000 metres or more at the pillbox and only the occasional round is even hitting the pillbox then even though it is tempting to return fire blasting back at the position I would not even bother returning fire because that simply gives away your position and may not hit him at extreme range anyway.

    Such distant firing is probably to lure the defender to return fire and identify which pillbox is manned, so as to know which pillbox to target with RPGs, recoilless rifles or guided missiles or distant fire could be to distract your attention and rather than fire back, grab your binoculars or night vision and see who is trying to sneak up on the position or past the guns. When you spot them and have an easy kill - then open fire, but in single-shot mode because that is all you will need.

    The tactics change if you have a well-armoured position that cannot be suppressed.

    I repeat the pillbox machine-gun is not to suppress the enemy. We want the enemy to stick their heads up and get closer to shoot at the pillbox, so the defenders can carefully target them and kill them on single-shot mode. We want the enemy to think they can sneak past the guns so we wait until they are an easy kill and only then take them out.
  • perform other duties as supervised by the higher ranks.
2. Master Gunner - skills-based promoted ranks for Gunners with additional specialist skills such as
  • weapons maintenance,
  • binocular and night-vision maintenance,
  • vehicle driving and basic maintenance - checking and maintaining tyre pressure, fuel and oil levels, etc.
  • infantry fighting vehicle specialist
  • mortar team skills,
  • first aid,
  • communications - operating telephone (landline and mobile / cell ) and radio.
Master Gunners get an appropriately and differently designed skills badge and salary increment for each specialist skill learned. So typically that would be a badge with a machine-gun icon for weapons' maintenance, a badge with an APC-icon for vehicle driving and basic maintenance and so on. A Master Gunner with more badges and skills outranks a Master Gunner with fewer badges and skills.

3. Team leader A promoted post. The most experienced and able Gunner in each team of 3 on a GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes position.

Team leaders should have multiple specialist skills and in particular the communications specialist skills is one of the required skills to be eligible to become a Team Leader. Team leaders are always the senior ranking members in every 3-man team irrespective of badges and skills. So a Master Gunner with, say, 5 skill badges does not outrank a Team Leader with, say, only 4 skills badges.

4. Shift officer - normally on duty back at the Mobile reaction depot and in command and in radio, mobile (cell) or land-line telephone contact with 4 teams, which is 12 men, on duty for an 8-hour shift. The shift officer acts as a deputy commander for the shift for 4 GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes and for the Mobile Reaction Depot.

The Shift Officer is also in radio, mobile (cell) or land-line telephone contact with Shift Officers in neighbouring Mobile reaction depots. The Shift Officer decides whether or not to consult the Depot commander in response to a request for assistance from any of the 4 teams under his command or to a request for assistance from a Shift Officer in a neighbouring Mobile Reaction Depot.

5. Depot commander - in command of one Mobile reaction depot , the vehicle, weapons and everything therein. Commands the 3 Shift officers and 12 teams which totals 39 men under his command. He can declare a depot emergency, and call the off-duty shifts in the mess back on emergency duty.

The Depot Commander can order the depot's vehicle and men to attend and to defend the GUN - Fortified machine gun nests / pillboxes under attack or order mortar teams into action from the Mortar teams' ground.

In an emergency, the Depot Commander notifies his immediate superior officers, the Reaction Captains who are the reaction director and deputy reaction director assigned command responsibility for his Mobile Reaction Depot.

6. Reaction Captain
  • has some command responsibility for the reactions of 8 neighbouring Mobile Reaction Depots
  • is the reaction director for the central 4 depots of these 8 neighbouring depots
  • is the deputy reaction director for the peripheral 4 depots of these 8 neighbouring depots.

Reaction Captains direct Mobile Reaction Depots

The diagram illustrates how the command responsibility of neighbouring Reaction Captains is organised.

Mobile Reaction Depots 1 & 2
- the reaction director is Reaction Captain C
- the deputy reaction director is Reaction Captain A

Mobile Reaction Depots 3 & 4
- the reaction director is Reaction Captain A
- the deputy reaction director is Reaction Captain C

Mobile Reaction Depots 5 & 6
- the reaction director is Reaction Captain A
- the deputy reaction director is Reaction Captain D


This overlapping organisation ensures that emergencies which are declared at any Mobile Reaction Depot can be supported if needs be by Reaction Captains with responsibility for the depot under attack ordering neighbouring depots on either side to react to the emergency.

A vehicle is assigned to each Reaction Captain who routinely drives to visit the 8 Mobile Reaction Depots for which he has command responsibility for daily meetings with the Depot Commanders and with the other 2 Reaction Captains he shares depot command responsibility with.

The Reaction Captains can arrange to receive a salute at attention from each off-duty shift twice a week with an opportunity for the Reaction Captains to boost morale by reminding the Gunners that every Reaction Captain has 8 Mobile Reaction Depots and 320 soldiers under his command and that the 2 Reaction Captains with command responsibility for a particular depot have between them 480 soldiers under their command.

So in emergencies the Secure Supply Route Protection Force is well organised to defeat any attack the enemy dares to try against any part of the supply route. They shall not pass! (No passeran!)

The Reaction Captain has a captain's office and quarters adjacent to one of the 4 Mobile Reaction Depots for which he is the reaction director and the Depot Commander of that particular Mobile Reaction Depot also serves as the Reaction Captain's secretary to take telephone calls to the Reaction Captain's Office if he is out of his office and quarters at the time.

Being so mobile in his daily routine, the Reaction Captain must be contactable via radio or mobile (cell) telephone when he is out of his office.

In the event of a major attack, the Reaction Captain will set up a tactical command headquarters at his office to direct the battle and call for further reinforcements from neighbouring Reaction Captain's offices if required.
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Re: Secure supply route protection force organisation

One serious problem with your plans is cost

Afghanistan cant pay for the army it currently has let alone a realistic increase in it or its police force to the degree you seem to be suggesting

Secondly the US cant afford the increase you are suggesting either, and the other countries involved are slowly pulling troops out
Re: Secure supply route protection force organisation

One serious problem with your plans is cost
The very beginning of this thread features a video which explains the billions of dollars NATO-ISAF and the Afghan government (with the west's money) are paying private contractors to get supplies through insecure roads by bribing the Taliban, warlords and other highwaymen bandits.

I am not suggesting paying more money but paying the same, only spending it more wisely.

We could withdraw from a few outlying bases which cost a lot to supply but deliver few benefits and use the money saved to make a start to secure supply routes.

Also, the plan here is for Afghans to do most of the work building the routes, roads, railways and defences. We would help out with construction equipment, raw materials, engineers, and additional security for engineers during the construction phase.

Therefore it is for the Afghan government to kick Afghans out of the poppy fields and onto the secure route construction programmes. This is war and the Afghans need to consider conscription in strongly insurgent areas where people fight for the Taliban because it pays well and for no other reason.

Afghanistan cant pay for the army it currently has let alone a realistic increase in it or its police force to the degree you seem to be suggesting
Most of the man power is Afghan army to defend the route. The police are used at check-points only.

The minimum man power is about 25 Afghan infantry soldiers (that includes a 25% reserve) plus support service personnel per kilometre.

Now for 2400 kilometres (which gets you all around Afghanistan) that is still only 60,000 plus support. But you won't need that many soldiers to begin with. To begin with more construction workers will be needed than soldiers.

The current strength of the Afghan army I believe is 130,000 and plans to take train up more to 300,000 plus.

So take 60,000 plus support from 300,000 still leaves plenty for other duties.

Now the issue is this - the soldiers are being paid but are not being used effectively to deliver such a basic item as supply route security. Therefore a plan is needed and the plan needs to be pretty much given to the Afghans as an ultimatum - if you want the money for the soldiers you need to agree to defend the supply routes like we say - competently, not just say "Oh sure, we'll defend the supply routes" but the money goes in Afghan government officials' and warlords' and Taliban leaders' bank accounts in Switzerland.

The political issue is why are we trusting our failing politicians who are giving away our cash to the enemy? We are the ones funding the Taliban's bombs and missiles! Why do we put up with this political failure?

Secondly the US cant afford the increase you are suggesting either, and the other countries involved are slowly pulling troops out
I am not suggesting an increase. I am suggesting a decrease in the amount of money in bribes we are paying to get supplies through which is only feeding, funding and encouraging the enemy.
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Re: Secure supply route protection force organisation

One serious problem with your plans is cost

Afghanistan cant pay for the army it currently has let alone a realistic increase in it or its police force to the degree you seem to be suggesting

Secondly the US cant afford the increase you are suggesting either, and the other countries involved are slowly pulling troops out

Don't even bother. This joker spams his proposals all over the Internet. I have found him on at least 3 other forums, always posting the same stuff. And no matter what anybody else tells him, he ignores it and continues on.

Check out is improved MRAP if you want a laugh.
Protection rackets are funding the insurgency in Afghanistan - the BBC reports

Protection rackets are funding the insurgency in Afghanistan - the BBC reports (YouTube)

BBC: How best to channel international aid to Afghanistan?

An international conference in Kabul has agreed to channel more aid through the Afghan government in a bid to tackle the disappearance of millions of pounds.

Afghanistan has received around £24bn in western aid since 2001, but persistent reports suggest that corrupt officials may have diverted money to the Taliban.

In July, US lawmakers voted to cut aid to the country, after allegations of corruption.

David Loyn reports from Kabul.

9 years on there's not much to show for 24 billion pounds (£24,000,000,000) of aid that's been poured into Afghanistan.

There are even reports that US aid money may be directly fuelling the Taliban insurgency.

Launching a Congressional report on misspent aid,
Congressman John Tierney said -
"American government money is funding a protection racket that would make Tony Soprano proud."
His committee found spending of more than two and half million pounds (£2,500,000) a week on protection money to allow US military convoys through.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said
"This is a major source of funding for the Taliban and it risks undermining the US strategy for Afghanistan"

Good report from David Loyn there - well worth the licence fee!

More on Afghan strategy -

The For Freedom Forums - Republican Intelligence Forum - U.S. funds our enemy Taliban's Afghan war. Afpak strategy.
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Re: Protection rackets are funding the insurgency in Afghanistan - the BBC reports

Secure border for a supply route - 19 kilometres or 12 miles wide


Which machine gun?

For the on-duty-shift manned pillboxes, I suppose the better (longer effective range, heavier the bullet) a machine gun the better. At a minimum the plan needs a machine gun with a 1000 metre effective range to keep Taliban RPG out of range of the pillbox.

Ideally I suppose a heavy machine gun (say 12.7 mm ammo, 1800 metres effective range) with its longer range would be best for stopping an advance of the enemy and would give enemy snipers and heavy machine guns at long ranges something to worry about though I think the plan would work well with a medium machine gun (say 7.6 mm ammo, 1500 metres effective range).

The disadvantage about the heavy machine gun is it is a more difficult 2-man carry when the team decide to move it to another pillbox to confuse the enemy but the extra range and fire-power of a heavy machine gun may well be worth the carry.

I am very keen to suggest armoured sights which allow the machine-gunner to fire accurately despite incoming sniper or machine gun fire intended to suppress the pillbox.

If a tank-crew machine-gunner can fire from inside his tank by virtue of armoured sights, without being suppressed, so should a well designed pillbox, in my opinion.

Squad automatic weapons or light machine guns (say, 5.56 mm ammo, 900 metres effective range) would be better stored in the APC to be quickly carried into the empty pillboxes to defend an emergency attack and such lighter machine guns are also useful in the APC for responding to an attack anywhere in the secure corridor.

Secure supply route protection force organisation (continued)

Staff numbers

Reaction captain's office
1 office every 4 depots

161 men
  • four depots of forty men (4 x 40 = 160)
  • plus the Reaction Captain (160 + 1 = 161)
Mobile reaction depot
1 depot every 2 kilometres (1.25 miles)

40 men
  • three eight-hour shifts of thirteen men, (3 x 13 = 39)
  • plus the Depot Commander (39 + 1 = 40)
40 men per 2 kilometres = 20 men per kilometre = 32 men per mile

Depot shift
3 shifts per depot

13 men
  • four three-man gun teams, ( 4 x 3 = 12)
  • plus the Shift Officer (12 + 1 = 13)
Approximate numbers of infantry required including reserves.

For a 25% reserve of 5 reserves per kilometre, 8 reserves per mile
Force including reserves is 25 infantry per kilometre, 40 infantry per mile

For a 50% reserve of 10 reserves per kilometre, 16 reserves per mile
Force including reserves is 30 infantry per kilometre, 48 infantry per mile

Support staff
Infantry deployed in the field or on guard somewhere can require numbers of support staff (such as delivery and rubbish collection, engineers of all kinds, trainers, medical, administration, military policing etc.) which I am told can be multiples of the numbers of deployed infantry they support, depending on the support facilities offered, the quality and efficiency of the support organisation.

I believe the support staff requirements for a static guard force are somewhat different to mobile infantry advancing (or retreating) in a conventional war because the guard force's requirements for fuel and ammunition deliveries are less but a guard force may expect more in terms of base facilities - running water, electricity and so on.

I am not recommending figures for support staff because such numbers are more dependent on the infrastructure of the army and nation concerned and are independent of the details of how the infantry are deployed which is my concern here only. Numbers of support staff are to be filled in by NATO-ISAF and the Afghan government and army themselves later.
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Afghan secure supply routes and new airport infrastructure


Download Warlord, Inc. Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan - Right-click, Save Target As ...

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military faces one of the most complicated and difficult supply chains in the history of warfare. The task of feeding, fueling, and arming American troops at over 200 forward operating bases and combat outposts sprinkled across a difficult and hostile terrain with only minimal road infrastructure is nothing short of herculean. In order to accomplish this mission, the Department of Defense employs a hitherto unprecedented logistics model: responsibility for the supply chain is almost entirely outsourced to local truckers and Afghan private security providers.
Transporting valuable and sensitive supplies in highly remote and insecure locations requires extraordinary levels of security.

Consider the Role of Afghan National Security Forces in Highway Security.

In the future, Afghan security forces will have a role to play in road security. Proposals to reform the convoy security scheme ought to take a medium- to long-term view of the role of Afghan security forces, while developing credible security alternatives that address the immediate U.S. military logistics needs.


Oversee Contracts to Ensure Contract Transparency and Performance.

The Department of Defense needs to provide the personnel and resources required to manage and oversee its trucking and security contracts in Afghanistan. Contracts of this magnitude and of this consequence require travel ‘outside the wire.’ For convoys, that means having the force protection resources necessary for mobility of military logistics personnel to conduct periodic unannounced inspections and ride-alongs.

My plan can achieve the "Warlord, Inc." recommendations 3 and 6, not merely to stop extortion and corruption along the supply chain but to gain a further significant advance to NATO-ISAF mission goals.

I propose secure supply route border defences and a dedicated Afghan protection force to man those defences which would achieve all along the main supply routes a level of security which is similar to the security inside a military base or fort.

"Warlord, Inc." uses the NATO-ISAF parlance of "inside the wire" to refer to the security achieved within their own NATO-ISAF bases but to virtually nowhere else in Afghanistan.

It is about time NATO-ISAF and the Afghan government and military were extending that true security "inside the wire" to more of Afghanistan. My secure supply route plan would bring more of Afghanistan "inside the wire" so to speak.


The secure supply route border defences require only authorised persons living inside the secure defences.

The general population sadly may harbour enemy agents and so must be required to live outside the border defences.

Where isolated houses and small villages can be relocated to use a suitable existing supply road then that should be done with compensation for the relocated residents and landowners.

Where the settlements along the old supply route are too big to move then new roads should be built for a new supply route, by-passing those bigger settlements by at least 6 miles.


Supplying the Troops

Afghanistan … is a landlocked country whose neighbors range from uneasy U.S. allies, such as Pakistan and Uzbekistan, to outright adversaries, such as Iran.
The fastest route to Afghanistan is by air. However, the lack of airport infrastructure places significant constraints on the military’s ability to rely on air transport to supply the troops. Afghanistan has only 16 airports with paved runways, and of those, only four are accessible to non-military aircraft (including contractor-operated cargo planes). Air transport is also the most costly shipping option. Thus, while air transport is available, it is limited to personnel and high-priority cargo. Only about 20 percent of cargo reaches Afghanistan by air.

Then let NATO-ISAF supply fully 100 percent of its cargo by air by increasing by 5-fold the airport infrastructure and capacity of Afghanistan, building perhaps one or two more big hub airports around the country or a few more long runways and additional cargo handling facilities at existing airports like Bagram or Kandahar - to accept the incoming international flights, such as Hercules C-130s, then from those large hub airports transfer the cargo into smaller planes to fly from new short runways at those few hub airports on to dozens of new smaller airports all around Afghanistan.

To pay for this, money can be reallocated to airport construction by rationalising some of the 200 most expensive and remote forward operating bases and combat outposts. Close those which cost more than they are worth.

Retreat to the really important bases, build airfields for them and build secure supply route defences to and from them and that's a very strong defensive position from which to launch offensive operations against the enemy.

No longer will the legitimate military and civilian traffic require the permission of warlords to travel along Afghanistan's highways.
sorry folks, but we cannot win in afghanistan without the support of the people
and it is apparent we are propping up a corrupt regime which does not enjoy the support of its citizens
this will become our vietnam if we remain
... The U.S. military does not believe the Taliban has made a strategic decision to target the north to avoid the bulk of NATO forces in the south, according to a U.S. military official. But a former senior Afghan intelligence official based in the north said that is "absolutely" what has happened.

... "This is the new policy of the Taliban to shift their people from the south to the north, to show they exist everywhere," said Faryab Gov. Abdul Haq Shafaq. "They're using the desert, where there are no security forces at all."

... The Taliban began to settle disputes with arbitrary punishments -- which some consider its main public service. In one case, a dispute between a pair of brothers and another man escalated until the third man was shot. Without evidence, the Taliban chose one of the brothers, 22-year-old Mahadi, as the guilty party, villagers said. The Taliban assembled dozens of people, handed the wife of the victim a Kalashnikov and ordered her to shoot him, which she did.

... Not everyone is unhappy with this. The headmaster of the boys' school in Khwaji Kinti, Agha Shejawuddin, said the Taliban is restoring order based on Islamic law. "The Koran says there should be public punishment," he said. "I think the situation under the Taliban will be better than this government."
... This is the message the Taliban regularly preaches in mosque speeches and in letters distributed to villagers. One such letter, passed out on Taliban stationary in Faryab, told villagers that "you are the nation that defeated the British again and again. Once more we want your compassion."

"Come together as one hand to defeat the infidels of the world," it read. "And make Afghanistan a Jewish and Christian cemetery."

... The ranks of Taliban have swelled in Faryab because of such men: young and jobless, according to officials and residents.

They profess little allegiance to a government they view as irrelevant, at best, and exploitative, at worst. ...
[bold emphasis added by bubba]

Bastion Airport (NATO Channel on YouTube)


Wikipedia said:
Camp Bastion is the main British military base in Afghanistan. It is situated northwest of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.

It is the largest British overseas military camp built since World War II.

Built in early 2006, the camp is situated in a remote desert area, far from population centres. Four miles long by two miles wide, it has an airstrip and a field hospital and full accommodation for the 2000 men and women stationed there. The base is divided into 2 main parts, Bastion 1 and Bastion 2. Bastion 2 includes two tenant camps, Camp Barber (US) and Camp Viking (DK). Bastion also adjoins Camp Leatherneck (US) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) Camp Shorabak. Bastion's airstrip can handle C-17s; C-130 transport aircraft; Apache and Chinook helicopters are forward-deployed at the Heliport.

Ministry of Defence News said:
Camp Bastion doubles in size

Camp Bastion, the lynchpin of British, and increasingly American, operations in Helmand, is a desert metropolis, complete with airport, that is expanding at a remarkable pace. Report by Sharon Kean.

Bastion exists for one reason: to be the logistics hub for operations in Helmand. Supply convoys and armoured patrols regularly leave its heavily-defended gates. They support the military forward operating bases, patrol bases and checkpoints spread across Helmand province.

Well here's another reason for Bastion to exist - to become a logistics hub for operations across Afghanistan, well beyond Helmand province.

Colonel Mathie said:
The biggest project is the airfield, a new runway and air traffic control tower. When it's finished we'll be able to put our TriStar airliners straight in here instead of going to Kandahar, allowing us to get strategic air traffic into Bastion. That will be a big development for us.

More ...

With strategic airlift capacity, think strategically. A few more runways like the new longer runway at Bastion and Afghanistan's airfield infrastructure would be sufficient for all of NATO-ISAF force supplies to reach Afghanistan by air - removing dependence and vulnerability on Pakistan's land routes and eliminating the extortion and corruption along the Afghanistan ground supply chain, as detailed in Warlord, Inc..

After supplies are landed at the few huge hub airports - Bagram, Kandahar and Bastion - cargo could be transferred into smaller airplanes using adjacent smaller runways for connecting flights out to smaller airfields associated with NATO-ISAF forward operating bases.

Whether by luck or by design Bastion is well chosen in being far from a population centre which makes it politically feasible to impose a rigorous security exclusion zone on the ground for many miles around the airport.

Controlling the ground far around a military airport is very necessary to defend the incoming aircraft against missile attack by ensuring no enemy can get close enough to launch a missile anywhere near below where the planes descend to land.

Landing at night is not a sufficient defence. Aircraft engines and their exhaust jets are very hot and infra-red shines just as brightly at night for missiles to lock on to.

We cannot assume that the Taliban will be unable to source the most advanced ground-to-air missiles. We should assume they will source such missiles and take the necessary security precautions.

So at Bastion NATO-ISAF must control the ground in a vast security perimeter out to the horizon and beyond which means closing the nearby road to Afghan traffic and providing an alternative circuitous route for civilian traffic.

I need hardly mention the military, economic and political disaster of allowing the enemy to bring down one of our big aircraft. So this must not be allowed to happen. Therefore a very wide secure ground exclusion zone around Bastion should be imposed.

In addition, I need hardly remind people of Al Qaeda's willingness to use aircraft themselves as weapons and therefore airport air defences need to be operational and alert at all times, not just when scheduled aircraft are landing.

The progress at Bastion is very promising for the whole Afghanistan mission. It shows the way ahead.

We can contemplate one day removing the constraints limiting NATO-ISAF supplies reaching Afghanistan by air. From a limit of about 20 percent now, I foresee a 100 percent supply-into-Afghanistan-by-air strategy as both feasible and desirable.
more reason why we cannot 'win' in afghanistan:
A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai, arrested last month on charges of soliciting a bribe, was also under investigation for allegedly providing luxury vehicles and cash to presidential allies and over telephone contacts with Taliban insurgents, according to Afghan officials familiar with the case.
... it had been Karzai himself who intervened to win the quick release of the aide, Mohammad Zia Salehi, even after the arrest had been personally approved by the country's attorney general. The new account suggests that the corruption case against Salehi was wider than previously known and that Karzai acted directly to secure his aide's release.
... The intervention by Karzai came after the Afghan investigators had begun to pursue corruption cases against the aide and possibly other Karzai allies inside the presidential palace. A commission formed by Karzai after his aide was released concluded that Afghan agents who had carried out the investigation with support from U.S.-backed law enforcement units had violated Salehi's human rights and were operating outside the constitution.
... An Afghan official with direct knowledge of the case said that Aloko had come under "enormous pressure" from Karzai to set Salehi free. A second Afghan official with direct knowledge of the events said that Aloko "received an order from the president" that Salehi be released.
... According to the Afghan officials, corruption investigators now say they fear for the safety of their families and do not believe it is possible to convict those close to the president. They do not expect Salehi to be indicted. Some believe the two elite task forces will be disbanded. Stankezi, the legal adviser, said that evidence collected by wiretapping was not admissible in court. ...

we are spending $1 million per soldier annually to accomplish what?
corruption reaches the highest levels of government in afghanistan and pakistan, where our funds have been found to be used against our efforts by our enemies ... due to these political cronies

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