Guest Post: Furious At Latest U.S. Attack, Pakistan Shuts Down Resupply Routes To Afghanistan "Permanently"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John C.K. Daly of OilPrice

Furious At Latest U.S. Attack, Pakistan Shuts Down Resupply Routes To Afghanistan "Permanently"

NATO recently literally shot itself in the foot, imperiling the resupply of International Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan by shooting up two Pakistani border posts in a “hot pursuit’ raid.

Given that roughly 100 fuel tanker trucks along with 200 other trucks loaded with NATO supplies cross into Afghanistan each day from Pakistan, Pakistan’s closure of the border has ominous long-term consequences for the logistical resupply of ISAF forces, even as Pentagon officials downplay the issue and scramble for alternative resupply routes.

Pakistan, long angry about ISAF/NATO cross border raids, has apparently reached the end of its tether. Following the 26 November NATO aerial assault on two border posts in Mohmand Agency in Pakistan’s turbulent NorthWest Frontier Province, Islamabad promptly sealed its border with Afghanistan to NATO supplies after the allied strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The U.S. military insists a joint patrol with Afghan forces was fired upon first and only responded with return fire and calling in airstrikes on the posts, which a commander mistakenly identified as Taliban training camps, after reportedly checking that there were no Pakistani military forces nearby. Pakistan Major General Ishfaq Nadeem, director general of military operations, rebutted Washington’s assertions one by one, commenting, "The positions of the posts were already conveyed to the ISAF through map references and it was impossible that they did not know these to be our posts."

So, what does this mean for logistical support of ISAF forces? According to Nesar Ahmad Nasery, the deputy head of Torkham Customs, around 1,000 trucks cross into Afghanistan on a daily basis, nearly 300 of which are NATO contractors carrying NATO supplies in sealed containers. Khyber Transport Association chief Shakir Afridi said that each oil tanker has a capacity of 13,000-15,000 gallons. In October 2010 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said that fossil fuels are the number one import to Afghanistan.

Noting the obvious, as Afghanistan has no indigenous hydrocarbon supplies, every drop must be brought in, with transit greatly increasing the eventual cost. For 2001-2008, almost all U.S. and NATO supplies were trucked overland to Afghanistan through parts of Pakistan effectively controlled by the Taliban.

Ground supplies are shipped into Pakistan’s Arabian Sea Karachi port and offloaded onto trucks before being sent to one of five crossing points on the Afghan border, the most important being Torkham at the Khyber Pass and Baluchistan’s Chaman. The recent attack has put all these routes at risk, perhaps permanently. Pakistan, being the shortest and most economical route, has been used for nearly a decade to transit almost 75 percent of the ammunition, vehicles, foodstuff and around 50 percent of fuel for coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan.

On 27 November Interior Minister Rehman Malik, addressing journalists at the Ministry of the Interior’s National Crisis Management Cell, after strongly condemning the NATO attack on Pakistani forces, stated that the resupply routes for NATO via Pakistan have been stopped “permanently,” adding that the decisions of the Defense Cabinet Committee (DCC) on the NATO forces attack inside Pakistan would be implemented in letter and spirit, stressing that "The decisions of the DCC are final and would be implemented."

The major issue at stake here for ISAF and U.S. forces is fuel, all of which must be brought in from abroad at high cost. In October 2009 Pentagon officials testified before the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that the "Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel" (FBCF) translates to about $400 per gallon by the time it arrives at a remote Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Afghanistan. Last year, the FBCF reached $800 in some FOBs following supply route bombings in Pakistan, while others have claimed the FBCF may be as high as $1,000 per gallon in some remote locations. For many remote locations, fuel supplies can only be provided by air - one of the most expensive ways being in helicopter fuel bladders.

The majority of U.S. tonnage transported into Afghanistan is fuel - 70 percent, according to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Alan Haggerty. The Marines' calculate that 39 percent of their tonnage is fuel, and 90 percent is either fuel or water.

According to ISAF spokesman Colonel Wayne Shanks, there are currently nearly 400 U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan, ranging from the massive Bagram airbase outside Kabul down to camps, forward operating bases and combat outposts.

The Pakistani supply lines have come under increasing attack by militants. Baluchistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durani noted that last year, 136 NATO tankers were destroyed in 56 attacks in the province, with 34 people killed and 23 wounded in the assaults.

But NATO and the Pentagon have a backup plan – since 2009 they have been shifting their logistics to the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a railway link running from Latvia’s Riga Baltic port through Russia and Kazakhstan terminating in Uzbekistan’s Termez on the Afghan border.

The NDN is a joint initiative of multiple Department of Defense agencies, including the US Transportation Command, CENTCOM, the US European Command, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Department of State. The NDN’s first shipment was sent on 20 February 2009 from Riga 3,212 miles to Termez, with U.S. commanders stating that 100 containers daily would be transported via the NDN. The supply trains have been given preferential right-of-way to speed the trip to about nine days. According to Pentagon officials, its goal is eventually to be able to bring 75 percent of its equipment into Afghanistan from the north.

But the true number of forces to be resupplied is far higher. Last year the Pentagon's Central Command put the number of contractors for the U.S. military at 107,000.

According to ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Gregory Keeley in Kabul, the NDN now accounts for 52 percent of coalition cargo transport and 40 percent for the U.S., which also receives around 30 percent of its supplies by air.


According to the FMN Logistics, the Washington DC-based logistics company that oversees the NDN and  provides “full supply-chain management to ensure the smooth  transit of(European Union) government cargo from various Ports of Entry including Riga, Latvia;
Poti, Georgia; Mersin, Turkey and Bandar Abbas, Iran, through to multiple NATO/ ISAF camps in North and South Afghanistan,” in January Russian Railways increased rail tariffs for freight by 10 percent and is suggesting an additional increase of 11.7 percent in 2011 to cover “operating costs.” Further east, Uzbekistan increased rail tariffs twice last year.

Bringing supplies overland on the NDN costs two or three times as much as shipping them by sea and moving them up through Pakistan.

And the NDN is not without problems of its own. On 16 November Uzbek media reported an explosion on an NDN railway line on a railway bridge on the Galaba-Amuzang section of track on Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Besides the NDN, the Pentagon also uses a supply route through Georgia’s Black Sea Poti port via Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, where goods are transshipped across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, where the goods are carried by truck into Uzbekistan to Afghanistan. While shorter than the NDN, it is also more expensive because of the constant on-and-off loading from trucks to ferries and back onto trucks. A third supply route, a spur of the NDN, bypasses Uzbekistan from Kazakhstan via Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, but poor road conditions in Tajikistan limit its usefulness.

So, given Pakistan’s shutdown, can the NDN absorb the increased railway traffic?

Probably, but it won’t be cheap, and will take some time to implement.

NATO’s investigation of the Mohmand attack, led by a one-star general, will release its findings on 23 December. What does Pakistan want to resolve the issue? A formal apology and resolute action taken against those responsible for the deadly cross border air strike.

The U.S. military's Transportation Command deputy commander Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said of resupplying Afghanistan, "This is the logistics challenge of our generation."

If the Pentagon does not issue an apology, then the U.S. military had better expect “the logistics challenge of our generation” to continue.

Or get out and push and push the HUMVEES and helicopters.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Tao 4 the Show's picture

Anybody know how many nukes Pakistan actually has? I wonder how much they are really under control and how much of a hand the U.S. has on the trigger.

Manthong's picture

Aw heck.. Kennedy supplied Berlin with C-47 Gooney Birds..

Obama can supply Afghanistan and the Chinese mines with C-17 Globemasters.

eureka's picture

NATO is a few more missteps from falling apart...

Nobody special's picture

The North American Terrorist Organization seems to be encountering greater resistance.

trav7777's picture

well, we are kinda waging a war in Pukistan...I mean we send in military assets and conduct attacks on their sovereign territory.  This shit doesn't sell well

midtowng's picture

NATO hasn't had a legit purpose since the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Now it's just imperialism.

NATO deserves to be ended, for the good of the world.

foxenburg's picture

Kennedy? The Berlin airlift was 1948/49.

Manthong's picture

My bad.. of course..  jelly donut brain moment.

eaglefalcon's picture

ich bin Frankfurter

ich bin Hamburger


Cloud9.5's picture

Slight difference between a C-47 and 47 planes. 

Mike2756's picture

That was a shorter route, think Stalingrad.

CPL's picture

100 warheads under the NPT, which means about as much as financial regulation now a days.  I understand that there have been increasing bribery problems from senior US military staff in Afghanistan with the culling of their pensions.  So take the official number and times it by four then put those warhead into the patriot missiles the US sold Pakistan for "defense" extend the range on them with retro fitting and extra capacity fuel, they in theory could turn Israel into a glass parking lot.


But if they wanted to do damage, they would target the southern naval yards of India to cut the knees off the US navy and air support, it would damage all oil refinement in the area.  It would also starve India from toe to head unless someone sets up an endless stream of trucks, horses and men to haul cargo.


Modern armies need a lot of everything to keep their hands clean.  Especially food.  MRE supplies are one of the last things considered in the Navy.  Mainly by design that your boat's job is to move bodies quickly and have as much firepower crammed into it along with repair gear.  It was the Achilles heel of old long haul boat, it's still the Achilles heel today.  You don't fight a boat, you starve the sailors.

trav7777's picture

India would annihilate Pukistan.

What planet are you on?  Haven't you heard of the Kargill War?

Element's picture

Kargil was not a war, is was a protracted series of small but intense skirmishes over the control of a mountain ridgeline.

Pakistan was itching to fight a 'proxy' war, but all it could do was fake a terrorist infiltration of disputed Indian Territory. Pakistan used its own forces to pretend to be NON-Pakistan-military.

i.e. they had only a fraction of Pakistani forces and firepower options available in the subsequent battle.

India however was politically free to throw in a large and coordinated force (i.e heavy artillery and ground-attack fighters) to dislodge the lightly armed irregular forces on the peaks.

The Pakis were unable to do the same things because that would mean tacitly admitting that the attackers were in fact Pakistani military forces, that had pre-emptively attacked Indian border positions.

But soon after Kargil ended it became undeniable that this was indeed a Pakistani military operation ... and the Pakis knew this would be discovered and proven ... so could have jumped in fully, but they didn't want to escalate it into a war, at that time.

Thus India was always going to win that battle, if they threw their weight into the fight.

The Pakis were taking a gamble that thy wouldn't, or else would eventually give up.

They lost the gamble.

It could have escalated into a general war, but what subsequently occurred was not even close to a real war or even a real battle between the two military forces.

The one thing repeatedly shown by wars is that to underestimate an enemy, and how far they will go, can lead to defeats. Vietnam is a classic and stunning case of determined rice-farmers deciding they were not going to loose, no matter what it took.

Vietnam beat the crap out of greatest military power on earth when the USA was at the very peak of its financial, economic, political and technological power.

Don't forget this incredibly important lesson when asserting x can beat the crap out of  y.

It simply isn't so.

Crassus's picture

The best guess is slightly under 100.

PD Quig's picture

Somewhere around 55 at last count.

Poor Pakistan! Being subjected to cross-border raids by NATO and the US. Why, it's an outrage, I tell you! I mean, Pakistan is in complete control of their sovereign territory and all. And their military and intelligence agency--the ISI--have been such good allies to everybody in the region. What, with enabling the Taliban, enabling terrorists who attack India, and enabling the worst forms of Islamist craziness.

Fucking Pakistan will not settle down until they finally piss off India and get turned into nothing more than beautiful mountains--all glowing radioactive green. Motherfuckers.

english serf's picture

Exactly. Fuck the pakis.

MyKillK's picture

"Enabling terrorists who attack India"


You must mean David Headley, who scouted out all the targets for the Mumbai attack. Oh wait, nevermind, he was a CIA agent. Who's enabling attacks against India again?

Seize Mars's picture

You must mean David Headley, who scouted out all the targets for the Mumbai attack. Oh wait, nevermind, he was a CIA agent. Who's enabling attacks against India again?

Wow. Well I learn something new every day.

bahaar's picture

You mean Nov 26 was the first time Pakistan ever attacked India?

PD Quig's picture

I realize you're probably historically illiterate like so many products of government schools, but if you had even the most basic knowledge of the history since 1948, you would know that Pakinstani terrorists have been killing Indians regularly for decades in Kashmir.

Jesus Christ. How is this country ever going to get a grip when there are so many people who are as ignorant as President Obama?

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's picture

Yes, relish in all the innocent children and babies that would be killed by such action, fine gentlemen that you are!

Element's picture

You might recall that even China has a difficult time exerting sovereign control of their western border zone and security.

The same certainly applies to NATO-[un]controlled Afghanistan! How much or Afganistan does the NATO backed puppet in Kabul control, as a percentage of Afghan sovereign territory - on any given day?

Pakistan controls a much larger percentage of its sovereign territory.

In fact, why do we even believe that the Paki's don't control 100% of their territory all the time, and always have?

Have they not been playing both sides of the street all along? Doesn't that require a deniable myth of 'lawless' NW regions?

If it's so lawless and out of their control, why is this where Pakistan test-fired its a-bomb?

Similar consideration applies to disputed Indian-controlled Kashmiri sovereignty.

The country with the best sovereign territorial control in the area is Iran.

ToNYC's picture

My big bet is that 'Hot Pursuit' by foreign powers raining asymmetrical death on summary suspects in your neighborhood is treated with a bit more empathy, cowboy.

SeventhCereal's picture

well it's about time they grew some balls.  what are they doing with those jf-17's anyway? 

philipat's picture

The  next step, the US will cut off all aid to Pakistan. The Military/Industrial complex is still undecided wether Iran or Pakistan is the next war. Watch for a "Terrorist attack sponsored by..." attack as the selection process advances.

Element's picture

And the Chinese and the Russians will step right into the weapons and tech vacuum, and Pakistan will more than happily welcome their assistence and advisors.

Thus Pakistan then flips to their camp, and will be supplied and protected as a VERY WILLING, HIGHLY MOTIVATED AND ENDLESSLY AGGRESSIVE proxy-war fighting rook.

BTW: and I bet the USSA and NATO will not defeat them.

XitSam's picture

Well, I stopped reading midway through the first sentence ... "NATO recently literally shot itself in the foot, ..."

Do you know what the word literally means? FYI, NATO does not have a foot.  /rant's picture

One of my pet peeves also. But the article had some good information. We learn near the end that US supplies to troops in Afghanistan will now go through Russia.

patb's picture

We also learn that some will go through Bandar Abbas Iran?


Let me get this straight.  NATO ISAF is running logistics through Iran?  A country most of the EU is about to attack, if the Israeli's don't first.

What doesn't go through Iran, is going through Pakistan, home to Bin Laden, and the rest through Russia?  A country NATO was meant to oppose?


Did FDR and Churchhill contract with Mussolini to run supplies against Hitler?



Careless Whisper's picture

This looks very bullish for Russian Railways. Their bonds are BBB. I think this makes them a Strong Buy.


CPL's picture

Nothing good historically has come out of the area and it has been the one region of the world (Afghanistan mountain regions) if you follow your history.  I won't say cursed, but anytime, any country wanders through the area and attempts to control it or possess it, the world power/country in question at the time runs the clock until it's obliterated and a shell of its former self.


Some people discuss the Bermuda triangle as a weird part of the world when things disappear.  Afghanistan is one place on the planet where civilizations disappear.

ltsgt1's picture

Nothing good would come out of supporting a regime which forces a rape victim to marry the rapist.

ToNYC's picture

Does that rule also apply to Soverign foreign powers refusing the oil exploration/pipelive/r-o-w deal that they can't refuse?

Resource rape your Mother Nature in your next-door neighbor's back yard. See how that works for you. Chat amongst yourselves if you think that might help.

Children know better.

Banjo's picture

Then the US should NEVER have armed trained and supported the Taliban against communist Russia. Communism is very civil compared to religious fundamentalism at least you were able to sit and talk with Russians at START treaty talks and communist China is a most favoured trade partner today.

Element's picture

You know the irony is the CIA wanted to prevent the Russians getting an Indian ocean Naval port in Pakistan.

But the way things are going now, they may get a Russian, AND a Chinese Naval port (or three) in Pakistan.



earleflorida's picture

Helen Thomas - Sensored/Career - Shut Down Permanently

"Afghanistan is the Graveyard for Empires"

PS. while stopping over in mass. a couple years back i happened to stay at a hotel not to far from a military training base. the owner was an indian [no surprise in mass.] and i happened to notice that 75% of all the guest were pakistani air force pilots. they were being trained to fly american foreign aid military jets [f14's& Fi6's]. it was continuous training of hundreds of pilots [helicopter's also were part of traing] bused in and out in the morning and returning in late afternoon. i asked the indian proprietor how long this training has been going on [he chuckled, with a nervous kind of laugh],... taken by surprise by my off-the-cuff [direct] question, he said without hesitation for months.

thankyou i said,... while walking away from the front desk i couldn't help but notice the glaring disdain felt, from the leftover pakistani's in the lobby towards me - perhaps overhearing my query.

ps2. pakistan gets billions in foreign aid, and just perhaps they want to 'up-the-anti-abit', for much more money.


Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's picture

Come on now!?  Next your going to tell me that the alleged 9/11 hijacker pilots were trained at U. S. Military bases.  Come on now.  Our government is honest, above board and beyond reproach.

Element's picture

You keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

GiantVampireSquid vs OWS UFC 2012's picture

War on terror War for resources Bitchez

Crassus's picture

We still have Russian rail bonds personally guaranteed by the tsar.

Barack Obama's picture

Patb, you may recall Israel, the ones so worried about its motral enemy Iran, sold sophisticated antitank missles to Iran. And, Israeli banks held/hold billions of dollars
on hehalf of Yassar Arafat, the Palestinians, and other individuals and groups opposed to Israel.

Element's picture

That was part of the game of balancing Iran against Iraq, to ensure Bagdad did not become even stronger.

Same things occurred swapping weapons for western hostages.


"held/hold" billions of dollars on hehalf of Yassar Arafat


Replace "held/hold" with froze

patb's picture

We also learn that some will go through Bandar Abbas Iran?


Let me get this straight.  NATO ISAF is running logistics through Iran?  A country most of the EU is about to attack, if the Israeli's don't first.

What doesn't go through Iran, is going through Pakistan, home to Bin Laden, and the rest through Russia?  A country NATO was meant to oppose?


Did FDR and Churchhill contract with Mussolini to run supplies against Hitler?



knukles's picture

But Angela Merkel has a dick.
And so does Lady Gaga.
So all's well in Never Never Land
Justin Beiber and I miss Michael Jackson...

ozzzo's picture

If you take it literally, the author is suggesting that Pakistan is NATO's foot. A corny metaphor maybe, but not complete nonsense.

DionysusDevotee's picture

I gotta say, good for them.  And, "we want an apology"?!?  Seems mind-blowingly forgiving to me.

RealFinney's picture

I'm sure if Pakistani troops shot up 24 US soldiers, the Americans would be equally considerate.