The United States’ military withdrawal from Afghanistan will cost billions and prove more difficult than the departure from Iraq. Some 20,000 of the 88,000 troops will be stateside by October and all combat forces will be withdrawn by 2014, USA Today
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the paper that pulling out the troops was a difficult job in contrast to Iraq where the military loaded up trucks and drove a few hundred miles to Kuwait for transport home.
"It's a very austere logistics environment to transport anything," he said. "Combat is still going on. Terrible terrain. Narrow roads. Long way to a seaport. Afghanistan is orders of magnitude more challenging for . . . (withdrawal) than was Iraq."
The exit route in Afghanistan involves a 1,000-mile drive on dangerous roads to the port in Karachi, Pakistan, and just a handful of trucks have made the trek so far. Carter said it may take as long as three months before traffic is flowing freely.
"The challenge of getting in and out of Afghanistan tells us a lot about why Osama bin Laden went there in the first place," Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute told USA Today. "The leaders of al-Qaeda knew it would be very hard to sustain a war effort in such a place."
According to Carter, the exit from Afghanistan involves dismantling 400 bases, bringing home 45,000 military vehicles, and returning 100,000 shipping containers.
"All that stuff has to come out now along the same slender arteries it came in on," Carter told the paper. "That is a very big difference from the last one of these I did, which was two years ago in Iraq."
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