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An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakistan

donsutherland1

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From Reuters:

Suspected Taliban gunmen in Pakistan set fire to more than 50 trucks carrying supplies for Western forces in Afghanistan, killing at least seven people in the first such attack near the capital, police said on Wednesday...

The U.S. military sends 75 percent of its supplies for the Afghan war through or over Pakistan, including 40 percent of the fuel for its troops.
Gunmen attack NATO trucks near Pakistan capital | Reuters

In business, one of the important lessons concerning suppliers/logistics is to avoid one's becoming disproportionately or even solely dependent on a single source. Such an outcome leads to one's lacking market leverage and becoming highly vulnerable to supply disruptions.

Unfortunately, it appears that NATO planners are unfamiliar with such basic business principles. Given how basic the concept of supply/logistics diversification is, such lack of familiarity is disturbing, as it raises fundamental questions about the expertise and competencies of the senior military planners.

Unless the supply routes are secured, and this attack suggests that they are not, the Taliban and its allies will be in a position to deny NATO forces operating in Afghanistan a share of supplies. Such a development would further undermine successes that would otherwise be possible from the troop surge there.

IMO, suboptimal outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan are not just a consequence of unforeseeable events. The rise of a low-level civil war and Al Qaeda in Iraq insurgency were highly likely outcomes given that country's past experience and other historical cases in which strong central authorities were replaced by weak ones. Afghanistan's history highlights the inherent risks of that entity's fragmented power and the vital importance of working through local tribal leaders. Past Soviet and British experience vividly illustrate the nature of that country's risks. In Iraq, the U.S. went in with too little manpower and no contingency plan for an insurgency. In Afghanistan, the U.S. placed too much emphasis on a Kabul-centric approach, particularly in a leader who is deeply unpopular and highly impulsive. Apparently, as supply route statistics and growing Taliban attacks on supply convoys this spring illustrate, the U.S. also failed to diversify its supply routes and, worse, with disproportionate reliance on routes through Pakistan, failed to secure those routes. All said, the suboptimal outcomes in both theaters are much more an outcome of poor planning than the unexpected.
 

rathi

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Logistics is quite a challenging business, and politics and geography only make it worse. A general can easily have budget issues and political considerations within Pakistan force convoys to operate in a more vulnerable fashion. I don't really have enough facts to make a strong case one way or the other, but I wouldn't be too quick to blame the Brass for this incident given the circumstances. While I would criticize their complete lack of coherent strategy, this particular attack isn't particularly connected to that.
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

In this case NATO is heavily constrained by the country they are working in. Afghanistan is landlocked and neither China nor Iran are going to let the US send military troops and supplies through their territory. The only other route would be through Uzbekistan/Tajikistan which are not exactly the most accessible countries in the world (being landlocked in the middle of Asia). Also consider the port state of transportation within Afghanistan itself with a small number of significant airports for a country that size and really poor roads. Really there is no way to avoid having a logistics bottleneck based simply on geography and lack of development. Hell, I'm shocked that they can even get a fourth of the supplies and 60% of the troops from another area than Pakistan. Take a look at the map.



You can either go from Turkey to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan (while avoiding Iranian airspace) to Afghanistan or you can go across Pakistan. That's it. Its going to be a bottleneck either way and the only way to get anything in without flying (which given Afghanistan's limited number of usable airports is sometimes necessary) is through Pakistan.

I honestly don't know what you expect these guys to do.
 

donsutherland1

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

I honestly don't know what you expect these guys to do.
It should be noted that weapons supplies are not involved. Similar approaches could be used for fuel and other supplies. Moreover, if the choice was to send supplies largely through Pakistan, the supply lines should have been secured. Sending a disproportionate share of supplies through unsecured corridors makes no sense. Few could reasonably expect to be surprised that the Taliban are attacking points of vulnerability. Securing the supply lines would likely mean having armed forces accompany the supply convoys.

It is a consequence of a failure of planning. Unfortunately, it is but one example of bad planning. Overall, what is happening in Afghanistan risks becoming a case study in bad planning despite heroic efforts of execution.

Today, The Washington Post reported:

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that major parts of the military operation to secure Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, would be pushed back because it was taking longer than expected to win local support...

But McChrystal said it was taking longer than anticipated to gain the blessing of local tribal leaders -- and Kandaharis in general -- for the operation. He also said commanders needed more time to ensure that Afghan government could step in after the fighting stops and provide effective public services, something that has been lacking in Kandahar for years.


The underlined part is key. It again reflects Kabul-centric thinking that is a problem. The widely unpopular Karzai regime's legitimacy is suspect it has cronyism-related issues to deal with in Kandahar. Family ties have visibly benefited Karzai's half-brother there. Carl Forsberg, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War described prevailing perceptions there as follows, "In Kabul, as in Kandahar, state-building and family interests have become confused, such that they are equated with one another, in ways that sometimes parallel the monarchical political order of the old regime, in which the strength of the state relied on the strength of the Shah [king], his family and its personal allies." In that atmosphere, the lack of support from local tribal leaders is reasonable. They are not about to run risks presented by the Taliban largely to benefit the Karzai family.

That the Kabul-centric strategy has yielded suboptimal results was expected, particularly by those who are knowledgeable about Afghan affairs. Ambassador Eikenberry and General Petraeus had concerns about partnering with the Karzai regime during the time the current strategy was being developed. From the December 6, 2009 edition of The New York Times:

That very afternoon, someone leaked word of a cable sent by Ambassador Eikenberry from Kabul expressing reservations about a large buildup of forces as long as the Karzai government remained unreformed. At one of their meetings, General Petraeus had told Mr. Obama to think of elements of the Karzai government like "a crime syndicate." Ambassador Eikenberry was suggesting, in effect, that America could not get in bed with the mob.

Sadly, as had been the case before the new strategy was devised, the architects of the strategy are the ones who yet again have fallen behind the proverbial curve. Worse, in this case they should never have fallen behind the curve. The evolution of events was readily foreseeable (and foreseen by some such as Amb. Eikenberry) and avoidable (had the strategy not been Kabul-centric in nature). With respect to overall planning, the bottom line is that just as the non weapons-related supply route strategy is badly flawed--disproportionately laid out through Pakistan and not adequately secured--the delays in making progress in the overall mission are not the result of the unexpected, but a general failure by the key planners to consider and understand the larger context in which the strategy must operate.

Whether or not Afghanistan will turn into a classic case study on how not to develop strategic plans remains to be seen. But already it has produced suboptimal outcomes, even as critical U.S. interests are at stake, the U.S. fiscal situation remains weak, and medium-term fiscal challenges will create greater pressure to reduce cost growth. That the U.S. public has grown disenchanted with the situation is to be entirely expected. While I continue to support the mission given the interests at stake, there is no assurance that a future Congress or the President will not dramatically change policy after the 2012 elections or perhaps even before then. Tough choices and trade-offs lie ahead. A lack of substantial and sustained progress and continual stream of negative "surprises" will influence future policy decisions.
 
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Lord Tammerlain

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Logistics have always been a concern in Afganistan.

The route through Pakistan is the shortest and most cost effective, does go through the Tribal/Pashtun area's. As the Pakistani government has trouble securing those area's the US is not going to be able to either.
d
Lastly going through Central Asia is an option, but an expensive one as transportation is land based and involves great distances through remote areas. The US/Nato was negotiating with Russia to allow for rail transport through Russia to the Central asian countries boardering Afghanistan. I cant recall what the end result of that was, but I think the political costs were going to be rather high.

Overall I think the costs to keep a soldier in Afghanistan for one year is one million USD (all costs)


Overall the only realistic route to use is the Pakistani route, and the occasional loss of some cargo is part of the cost involved
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

I actually wrote a memo about this in January 2009. I have posted it below:

Issue:
Securing safe, reliable supply routes into Afghanistan is vital for victory in the Global War on Terror.

Background:
In December of 2008, the Bush Administration released a report stating, “A modern Afghan democracy -- stable and free of extremists -- may be both unattainable and unaffordable.” President Obama has changed course from this assessment by stating, as a policy of his administration, that Afghanistan is the “central front in the war on terror” and vital to our success combating extremism. The President wants to send an additional 30,000 soldiers into Afghanistan to counter the growing extremist influence. An equal number of NATO soldiers, not from the United States, are hoped to accompany this increase. To sustain this increase protecting supply routes must be made a priority.

Extremist groups in Pakistan have recently begun a large effort to attack NATO supply convoys going along the critical supply route stretching from the port city of Karachi to Peshawar, and through the Khyber Pass to Kabul. More than 300 NATO vehicles and containers have been destroyed in a series of attacks on shipping terminals in Peshawar as well as attacks on convoys moving through the region. Since roughly 75 percent of NATO and United States supplies move through Pakistan, this trend is particularly worrisome.

A vital airbase, located in Kyrgyzstan, is on the brink of being closed. The Manas Air Base has begun closing procedures after negotiations broke down on compensation. It is widely believed that Russian influence is behind the closing, and Russia has offered an aid package worth $2 billion to the impoverished nation.

The loss of supply routes in Pakistan, as well as the Kyrgyz airbase would be a devastating blow to continuing ground operations. Afghanistan, as a landlocked nation with very few passable roads is very difficult to supply using current routes. In the absence of these routes, new routes would need to be found, and they would most likely be even less developed, more expensive, and much harder to defend. These alternative routes would include multiple other nations, and would be almost impossible to keep together. The cost of setting up these routes seems to outweigh the potential benefits.

Recommendations:
1) Intelligence Community:
- Develop operational plans to infiltrate insurgent groups in order to gather intelligence on insurgent activities.
- Work with Pakistani intelligence services to find and eliminate and extremist leaders hiding along the Pakistani-Afghan “border.”
2) Financial Support
- Ensure that the government of Pakistan has enough funding to conduct operations in the Northwest Frontier Province.
- Write an aid package for the Kyrgyz government to ensure that the Manas Air Base remains open. This package could include development aid, and potentially include natural gas sales to Europe in return.
- Increase funding to Afghanistan to promote national unity and collective identity.
3) Military Options
- Accelerate the training of the Afghan Army.
- Protect convoys on the ground with predators or other military aircraft.
- Extend counter-insurgency operations along the Pakistani border, and cross border operations with the permission of the Pakistani government.

Analysis:
The human intelligence mission needs to be expanded in Afghanistan. With the difficult terrain that we are facing we must have people on the ground able to infiltrate insurgent groups to get actionable intelligence. The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is critical to the success of the mission in Afghanistan. Using intelligence to identify and eliminate leaders of the insurgency hiding in this area must be an priority.

Financially, the United States must ensure that Pakistan has the funds to maintain Army operations in the Northwest Frontier Province. This money could be given with conditions, or tied to development programs for the Pakistani government. The government of Kyrgyzstan must also be given an aid package. The United States can not allow this air base to be closed due to an aid package worth $2 billion, especially in the face of crumbling supply routes in Pakistan. If the government of Kyrgyzstan can be convinced that the United States will stand by it in the face of increasing Russian pressure, a deal might be struck to bring Kyrgyz natural gas to Europe. This might entice NATO to increase its efforts in the Afghan conflict.

Funding to promote national unity and collective identity could also produce some good results. Given that Afghanistan is heavily divided along tribal lines, and has rarely had a functional central government, the people of Afghanistan need to have something to take pride in about their country. For example, a national soccer team could bring tribes together and promote peaceful tribal dialogue. Education programs can be established that promote nationalist identity over tribal identity in an effort to reshape thinking about a central government.

Militarily, the United States must accelerate the training of the Afghan Army. Current plans call for the doubling of the Afghan Army in the coming years, however a senior US military official states half the Army training spots are unfilled. An increase of troops and funding will be critical in this area. An increase in predator patrols over convoys could ensure that once an attack is launched, it can be identified and neutralized. Coordination with the Pakistani government could ensure that these predator patrols continue even while in Pakistani controlled territory.

Keep in mind that I wrote this in January 2009, (for a graduate school class) so some of the things included are probably not all that relevant any longer. It seems however that not much has changed since then in terms of supply lines.
 

donsutherland1

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

I actually wrote a memo about this in January 2009...

Keep in mind that I wrote this in January 2009, (for a graduate school class) so some of the things included are probably not all that relevant any longer. It seems however that not much has changed since then in terms of supply lines.
Great piece. In terms of the supply lines, you hit the key point about how vital they are and the need to secure them. At the same time, you offered a concrete mechanism for helping secure them. Had the planners read your memo and acted on some of its recommendations, I believe some of the things today, particularly from a cost- and supply-line perspective, would be better than they are.
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Great piece. In terms of the supply lines, you hit the key point about how vital they are and the need to secure them. At the same time, you offered a concrete mechanism for helping secure them. Had the planners read your memo and acted on some of its recommendations, I believe some of the things today, particularly from a cost- and supply-line perspective, would be better than they are.
Which ones have they not followed?

Recommendations:
1) Intelligence Community:
- Develop operational plans to infiltrate insurgent groups in order to gather intelligence on insurgent activities.
- Work with Pakistani intelligence services to find and eliminate and extremist leaders hiding along the Pakistani-Afghan “border.”
Infliltration of insurgent groups has been an ongoing US policy for quite a few years, the recent (within a year) suicide bombing of a US forward operating base was done by one of the agents used to inflitrate insurgent groups, to bad he turned out to be a double agent. US and Pakistan intel services have been working together on quite a few issues, generally targeting Pakistani taliban though rather then Afghan taliban, as Pakistan still considers Afghani taliban to be of use
2) Financial Support
- Ensure that the government of Pakistan has enough funding to conduct operations in the Northwest Frontier Province.
- Write an aid package for the Kyrgyz government to ensure that the Manas Air Base remains open. This package could include development aid, and potentially include natural gas sales to Europe in return.
- Increase funding to Afghanistan to promote national unity and collective identity.
The US has been providing aid to Pakistan, typically military aid, which was supposed to be for insurgent operations, but Pakistan typically used for equipment used to defend vs India. Financial aid to Kyrgistan(sp) has been lacking, and the money that has been sent has been used to enrich those close to the recently deposed president. The US was also quite slow in realizing the socio political problems in Kyrgistan. Funding to Afghanistan to promotee national unity and collective identity, while laudable is entirely unrealistic for a variety of reason. Corruption is number one. Secondly the idea of national unity and collective identity has to start with the largest ethnic group. That is the Pashtuns, who also make up the Taliban primarily. They are going to identify with the Pakistani Pashtun before the Tajiks or Hazara. To change this would require decades of central government control over eduction, culture etc
3) Military Options
- Accelerate the training of the Afghan Army.
- Protect convoys on the ground with predators or other military aircraft.
- Extend counter-insurgency operations along the Pakistani border, and cross border operations with the permission of the Pakistani government.
Accelerated training is ideal and has been attempted, but the quality of training and of the trainees has been lacking. Protecting convoys with aircraft is unrealistic as most of the attacks are in the depots in Pakistan or at the boarder. Trying to identify who is going to attack convoys when they are at a depot is nearly impossible untill the attack has occured. Counter insurgency operations within Pakistan has been increased along with drone strikes within Pakistan during the Obama admin. If I recall correctly drone strikes have increased by at least 50% under Obama compared to Bush
 

donsutherland1

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Which ones have they not followed?
With respect to the supply convoys, the recommendation made by Nola to "Protect convoys on the ground with predators or other military aircraft" hasn't been pursued. Neither has an approach of providing armed escorts for such convoys been utilized.
 

Infinite Chaos

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

-- Funding to Afghanistan to promotee national unity and collective identity, while laudable is entirely unrealistic for a variety of reason. Corruption is number one. Secondly the idea of national unity and collective identity has to start with the largest ethnic group. That is the Pashtuns, who also make up the Taliban primarily. They are going to identify with the Pakistani Pashtun before the Tajiks or Hazara --
I think very similar problems infect the Pakistan Govt - the convoy's location and timings may have been leaked and so it became an easy target.
 

donsutherland1

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

From Bloomberg.com today:

Contractors on a $2.1 billion job trucking U.S. supplies into Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars in protection money to warlords controlling their routes, according to a congressional report...

The Pentagon “has been largely blind to the potential strategic consequences” of its supply-chain contracting, the report said...

The lack of U.S. escorts also means the Pentagon “has little visibility into what happens to the trucks carrying U.S. supplies between the times the trucks leave the gates in the Pakistan port of Karachi” to their destinations.
U.S. Afghan Supply Chain Relies on Warlord Payoffs, Report Says - Bloomberg.com

As this thread has highlighted bad planning, the text I underlined is particularly relevant to that issue. Given how the military largely missed such a basic concept as the need to secure convoy routes, not to mention that the "revised" Afghanistan strategy largely added manpower to a fundamentally flawed Kabul-centric strategy, the latest finding that the Pentagon "has been largely blind to the potential strategic consequences" of bribing warlords is not surprising even as it is deeply disturbing. Unless one has strategic understanding of the consequences, planning can become a futile exercise. Barring some significant changes, in senior personnel and strategies/tactics, as well as the rapid development of strategic understanding of choices/decisions, the months ahead could bring more unwelcome "surprises" that do little to bolster major U.S. interests in the region.
 
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MKULTRABOY

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

"Protect convoys on the ground with predators or other military aircraft" hasn't been pursued. Neither has an approach of providing armed escorts for such convoys been utilized.
Is that possible?
 

obvious Child

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Okay, outside of directly taking control of a swath of Pakistan from the port to Afghanistan, what's your proposal Don?

Civil1z@tion has made an excellent post about the lack of options here.

Sometimes planning cannot compensate for the geography. In the mold of Sun Tzu: "proper planning dictates not to fight a war here." Some times, the best war plan is the plan that does not involve going to war.
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

What year of the war is this?
They can't be that smart if such "success" by taking advantage of a lack of - forethought - is just now coming to their thought processes.

^ ah - I see how they got a little stupid, that's how they were thinking "gee, after all these years we haven't had a convoy completely destroyed . . . very well then . . ."
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Okay, outside of directly taking control of a swath of Pakistan from the port to Afghanistan, what's your proposal Don?
My proposal for the Afghanistan strategy, of which securing supply convoys is one element would be as follows:

1) The focus would be shifted away from Kabul to the tribal leaders. Tribal leaders would be charged with allocating resources that would be furnished for reconstruction, economic development, education, within their jurisdictions. Much effort would be required to regain the trust that had been squandered on account of the present ill-conceived Kabul-centric approach. Humanitarian aid would also be allocated through the tribal leaders.

2) Security operations would be coordinated with the tribal leaders. Local security forces would be developed and trained. Those forces would be charged with maintaining security in areas under the jurisdiction of each tribal leader. They would be developed with attention to maintaining a careful balance of power so that no local area would be in a position to try to gain preeminence at the expense of others.

3) Only truly national issues--those that impact the entire country--would be financed through and coordinated with the central government. Those efforts would immediately be focused on developing an adequate legal and constitutional framework, financial system, central army that would complement local security forces when needed (including a "balancing" role), not serve as a substitute for them, and ultimately an election that would create a government that Afgans would widely view as legitimate. In the longer-term, once sufficient institutions and a constitutional framework are in place the country could evolve toward greater central authority. It will probably take a decade or longer for such a situation to be viable. For now, given its fragmented structure, lack of institutional development, historic ethnic rivalries, and lack of the Karzai regime's legitimacy among Afghanistan's people, a far more decentralized approach makes sense. Interests and pragmatic solutions relevant to the country's structure as it is, not how one wishes it were, need to take precedence over personal affinities/personalities.

4) Supply convoys would be accompanied by sufficient armed forces to deter/overcome attacks. Drones would also provide air cover to facilitate the security of such convoys. The adopted approach of leaving the convoys naked to attack was an unacceptable failure of planning. You either diversify the routes to spread risk or, if diversification cannot be achieved, secure them. Doing nothing is a failure. There’s no other way to put it.

5) The path to diplomacy would be open for pragmatic elements. An offer of national amnesty would be given for all pragmatic persons who agree to respect the jurisdiction of the relevant tribal leaders, commit themselves to supporting a constitutional Afghan framework, and pledge to abandon violence.

6) The ROE for NATO's forces would be sufficiently robust so as to allow them to take on Taliban/Al Qaeda elements and permit passive mechanisms, including the demolition of structures used for armed attacks. At the same time, the Laws of War would be respected so as to try to minimize civilian casualties.

7) The U.S. would likely need to develop a new strategy for working with Pakistan, with an emphasis on viable institutions. Having facilitated the collapse of the Musharraf government (imperfect and authoritarian) without a viable alternative, the U.S. contributed to creating a situation where Pakistan is sliding toward failed state status. The current government is both corrupt and very weak. Whether outreach to Pakistan's military, which was disheartened by the U.S. approach, is feasible remains to be seen. The U.S. approach might need to focus on containing the spread of adverse consequences from Pakistan's erosion as a viable state if it cannot develop a suitable approach for slowing, much less reversing that slide.

8) Politically, the U.S. would set clear, measurable internal objectives against which progress would be rigorously assessed.

The current situation in Afghanistan is not an unforeseen or unforeseeable matter. Instead, it is a logical outcome of the basic choices (to pursue a Kabul-centric strategy) that were made, choices that were at odds with the country’s history and structure. In short, the expression “garbage in-garbage out” is pertinent.

What I noted back in November 2009 remains relevant and bears repeating given that the dynamics remain essentially the same as they were back then:

Although I agree that additional manpower is needed, I believe a full discussion needs to examine, among other things, the past experiences concerning Czarist, British, and Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the failure of earlier "surges" to bring about a stable outcome, and Afghanistan's historically decentralized framework in which tribal leaders/local institutions play a larger role than its central government. Former Soviet President Gorbachev's warning, while unpleasant, goes to the heart of the convergence of Afghanistan's history and lack of governance structure. The Soviets had much greater manpower and much freer operating constraints and still failed to pacify Afghanistan.

Currently, Kabul is defined by corruption, cronyism, and incompetence, if not leadership that may not adequately represent all of Afghanistan's various ethnic or tribal groups. Afghanistan remains closer to a failed state than a viable national unit. The leadership issue is one that the military planners need to address. In the wake of previous failed strategies, they have a genuine burden to address the issues as to why the previous troop surges in Afghanistan, including one from earlier this year, proved ineffective, why their earlier plans failed to foresee how events unfolded to date, why one should have confidence that the outcome this time around will be different given Afghanistan's historic experience and current dynamics. They need to identify who specifically will be the key tribal leaders whose efforts will be leveraged in implementing the plan and how reliable have they been in the past. They need to identify what local institutions will be relied upon to complement the efforts of the additional troops, among others.

The historic experience, failure of earlier troop surges, and, arguably worst of all, previous strategies' failure to come close to anticipating the overall evolution of events does not inspire much confidence. Neither do the realities associated with failed or failing states.


http://www.debatepolitics.com/break...his-war-options-changed-2.html#post1058360373

Following the announcement of the plan, I also noted, “Although I have reservations about the outlined plan (too much reliance on Kabul/Hamid Karzai, reliance on a weak and corrupt government in Pakistan, and an announced timetable when such a timetable should have been kept private), I very much hope that the plan will bring about lasting improvements in stability in Afghanistan.”

http://www.debatepolitics.com/break...roops-sent-afghanistan-10.html#post1058397752

Finally, while I’m not going to presume everything would have been on course with a decentralized strategy that focused on Afghanistan’s tribal leaders, I will argue that situations such as The Washington Post’s revealing that General McChrystal “said it was taking longer than anticipated to gain the blessing of local tribal leaders…” would have been avoided. What reason do tribal leaders have to trust those, much less run risks on their behalf, who are propping up a provincial regime that has a demonstrated and persistent record of cronyism, corruption, and pursuit of self-interest at the expense of the interests and needs of local areas in particular and Afghanistan in general? Very little. Again, the outcome is not surprising even if General McChrystal believes it is ‘unanticipated.’ Then again, if one fails to examine the structural underpinnings of Afghanistan, the country’s history, the root causes of its instability/dysfunctionality, and then develops a strategy that is incoherent with respect to Afghanistan’s realities, I guess one can be surprised.
 
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obvious Child

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Don, you do realize that's not going to happen regardless no?

To secure the route, which is pretty much the Khyber pass, we need the Pakistani military to permanently hold it. That's not going to happen, thus leaving us to hold it. Which means more or less invading Pakistan.

Do you actually think what you posted is a realistic viable strategy?
 

donsutherland1

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Don, you do realize that's not going to happen regardless no?

To secure the route, which is pretty much the Khyber pass, we need the Pakistani military to permanently hold it. That's not going to happen, thus leaving us to hold it. Which means more or less invading Pakistan.

Do you actually think what you posted is a realistic viable strategy?
Having armed escorts or guards accompanying the convoys in no way, shape, or form, requires the military's invading and holding Pakistan's territory. Hence, it is not only viable, it makes far more sense than leaving the convoys exposed to attack.
 

obvious Child

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Having armed escorts or guards accompanying the convoys in no way, shape, or form, requires the military's invading and holding Pakistan's territory. Hence, it is not only viable, it makes far more sense than leaving the convoys exposed to attack.
Not necessarily. Especially considering the insurgent's capacity to place explosives under the roads. You pretty much need to deny insurgent's access to the road entirely to secure it. Furthermore, Pakistan is obviously not up to the task of securing the roads. That more or less means we have to. Thus, we'd have to take control of a large portion of Pakistan.

Note, I don't think your plan is inherently bad, just very unrealistic.
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Not necessarily. Especially considering the insurgent's capacity to place explosives under the roads. You pretty much need to deny insurgent's access to the road entirely to secure it. Furthermore, Pakistan is obviously not up to the task of securing the roads. That more or less means we have to. Thus, we'd have to take control of a large portion of Pakistan.

Note, I don't think your plan is inherently bad, just very unrealistic.
No plan would eliminate all risk. Having security escorts/personnel accompanying the convoys would reduce the risk to convoys. Moreover, the U.S. has improved its capacity to detect IEDs, so the threat would not be as great as it was when the U.S. was all but caught by surprise by the tactic in Iraq when the anti-U.S. elements resorted to such devices.

Aside from the impact supply losses can have on military operations, the U.S. also needs to find a way to reduce the growth in costs of its military operations. At an estimated $1 million per soldier per year, the U.S. is already at a competitive disadvantage in that area. If cost disparities increase in the years ahead, the U.S. could be faced with the strategic need to achieve rapid "knock out" victories or lose.

Furthermore, the long-term budgetary outlook suggests financing issues and competition for financing lie ahead. With the U.S. public likely to bear the burdens of trying to restore fiscal sustainability (program reductions and tax hikes), the appetite for sustaining costly military operations will further weaken. As that happens, the calculations of U.S. rivals--state and non-state--will take into consideration those fiscal and public constraints.

All said, the pursuit of improved efficiency is important, even now. Easy gains can be achieved through addressing avoidable losses. Adding armed security personnel to convoys to reduce the risk of attacks/deter threats is one such step. Additional savings will need to be realized through the procurement process e.g., the federal government will need to have the discipline to hold contractors to the terms that they proposed in winning their bids (timelines, attributes, costs) rather than ultimately financing cost overruns and tolerating delays.
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Okay Don, let's go with your armed escorts idea. The Khyber pass where most of the goods travel by road is in Peshwar. Which is in the North of Pakistan. That's I'm estimating around 800 miles from Karachi. And last month I believe insurgents hit a convoy starting in Karachi. With Pakistan unable to do the job, that more or less means we have to. How would we supply people along that route? Bases in Pakistan seem very out of the question.

I don't disagree that the costs are insane (and why buying Russian Mi-17s was a good choice if purely for that reason) and we need to reduce costs, but I don't see a way of doing this outside of getting China to ship our stuff. And even China has problems in its most Western state.

Since we cannot count on Pakistan to do the escort duty, who do you propose provide security?
 

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Re: An example of bad logistics planning: Taliban destroy NATO supply convoy in Pakis

Okay Don, let's go with your armed escorts idea. The Khyber pass where most of the goods travel by road is in Peshwar. Which is in the North of Pakistan. That's I'm estimating around 800 miles from Karachi. And last month I believe insurgents hit a convoy starting in Karachi. With Pakistan unable to do the job, that more or less means we have to. How would we supply people along that route? Bases in Pakistan seem very out of the question.

I don't disagree that the costs are insane (and why buying Russian Mi-17s was a good choice if purely for that reason) and we need to reduce costs, but I don't see a way of doing this outside of getting China to ship our stuff. And even China has problems in its most Western state.

Since we cannot count on Pakistan to do the escort duty, who do you propose provide security?
The escorts would either have NATO military personnel assigned to them or robust private security contractors. I'd favor the former (more competence) coupled with drones regularly policing the routes. Under such a scenario, the U.S. would probably need to provide Pakistan with a quid-pro-quo, but when nations' interests are not wholly compatible, diplomacy requires that something be given in return for something. In short, there's nothing shameful or unethical about such terms.
 
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