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U.S. to Expand Afghan Bases for Troop Surge

Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009 11:10 PM

US army logisticians face the gargantuan task of relocating the equivalent of a small town to a mountainous country at war halfway around the world, in the middle of winter.

For the military contractors who feed the soldiers, provide them with shops, shelter and petrol, at up to £240 a gallon, it’s pay day.

The influx of 30,000 fresh US troops will call for bigger bases, blast walls, bunkers, kitchens, latrines and somewhere for the helicopters to land, free from landmines. Military supplies, such as ammunition and sensitive equipment, are usually flown in on military aircraft or driven in under Nato guard, but the rest arrives by road.

The troops need trucks to drive around in. The trucks need spare parts. The bases need gravel to keep the dust down. Appearing before a Senate committee yesterday, Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted that the logistics were challenging. “A big difference between Afghanistan and Iraq is that in Afghanistan we don’t have a Kuwait, so what we deploy in great part goes straight in. So the logistical challenges are significantly greater than in Iraq. But we’ve been working this for months.”

Admiral Mullen added that “a significant number” of the 30,000 extra troops would be in Afghanistan by the “March-April timeframe”, with 20,000 to 25,000 by July, “prepared and on mission”.

The US and Nato rely on local construction companies, concrete suppliers, fuel importers and haulage firms to keep their troops fed, watered and ready for action. The companies levy hefty premiums for the austere conditions, as well as additional security fees for shifting supplies along hostile roads. Shaima Atiq, president of an Afghan logistics company, said: “The good news is it creates jobs and money for the Afghan economy.”

Aid agencies warn that it is unsustainable, but diplomats admit that there are few alternatives. Security firms charge about $1,000 (£600) per fuel tanker, for safe passage from Kandahar to the main British base, Camp Bastion, in Helmand.

From Kandahar to Tirin Kowt, the capital of Oruzgan province, escorts cost as much as $3,000 a truck, a supplier told The Times. By the time a gallon of petrol reaches remote mountain outposts, it can cost up to $400 (£240), the Pentagon told Congress.

To read full London Times story — Go Here Now.

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US army logisticians face the gargantuan task of relocating the equivalent of a small town to a mountainous country at war halfway around the world, in the middle of winter.
US,Afghan,war,bases,troops
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2009-10-02
Wednesday, 02 Dec 2009 11:10 PM
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