NATO supply routes closure causing massive equipment backlog: US DoD

Published: May 1, 2012

US Department of Defense says closure of Nato supply routes backlogging thousands of tons of equipment. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defense’s (DoD) semi-annual Afghanistan report says the closure of the Nato supply routes in Pakistan has led to the backlogging of thousands of tons of equipment.

In the report on progress towards Afghanistan’s stability and security that is based on events from October 2011 to March 2012 and has been submitted to Congress, the Department of Defense says that the closure of the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) remains a strategic concern. “Failure to settle the GLOC issue will also significantly degrade redeployment and retrograde operations in support of the drawdown of coalition forces.”

The report cites the impact the closure of the Nato supply routes has had on equipment needs for Afghan forces. The Nato supply routes were closed in October 2011, after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a Nato strike on the Pak-Afghan border.

The Afghan National Police remains under-equipped, says the report, and there will be shortages of equipment especially vehicles for Afghan National Army (ANA) units due to the closure of the GLOCs. Over 4000 vehicles meant to be used for the ANA, said the DoD report, remain stranded in Pakistan. “Reopening the GLOCs would improve the US and coalition forces’ mission flexibility and build capacity.”

US forces in Afghanistan have been relying primarily on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) through Central Asian nations for sending supplies to forces. The report says that it has “ensured the sustainment needs of coalition forces and allowed initial proof of principle shipments for retrograding material from Afghanistan to the United States” through the NDN.

However, “the closure of the GLOCs has had a more limited effect on communications equipment and weapons, the delivery of which continues via air lines of communication (ALOCs). Fielding priorities for the next 180 days are expected to be met if Pakistani GLOCs are restored.”

The closure of the GLOCs has also had an impact on the completion of the Kandahar-Helmand Power Plant program, and has created a backlog of electrical materials required for the project, says the report. DoD says that unless the border reopens or alternate routes are used, which will increase the cost of the project, the US could see a “potentially one-year delay in getting Kandahar distribution upgrade materials in the country.”

Safe havens in Pakistan

The DoD report says that the insurgent safe havens in Pakistan including the Haqqani network’s presence in North Waziristan are among the reasons why the security situation in eastern Afghanistan remains volatile.

The report also said that while attacks decreased by eight percent as opposed to the same time last year, 34% of all attacks in the country were in eastern Afghanistan, which had increased by 3% as opposed to the same period last year.

The report also calls safe havens in Pakistan and the “limited capacity of the Afghan government” as the biggest risks to Afghanistan’s security and transforming the state into a durable and sustainable one. Additionally, the report says that Kandahar remains a contested province in Afghanistan, partly due to the “insurgent safe havens and freedom of movement across the border in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.”

“The insurgency benefits from safe havens inside Pakistan with notable operational and regenerative capacity. The insurgency remains a resilient and determined enemy and will likely attempt to regain lost ground and influence this spring and summer through assassinations, intimidation, high-profile attacks, and the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Additionally, the Afghan Government continues to face widespread corruption that limits its effectiveness and legitimacy and bolsters insurgent messaging.”

“Pakistan’s selective counterinsurgency operations, passive acceptance – and in some cases, provision – of insurgent safe havens, and unwillingness to interdict material such as IED components, continue to undermine security in Afghanistan and threaten ISAF’s campaign.”

While citing meetings between Afghanistan and Pakistan’s leadership, the report says, “pervasive mistrust, long-standing tensions, and divergent strategic interests continue to make genuine cooperation difficult.”

“Pakistan continues to seek a stable, secure Afghanistan, an Afghan government with primacy for Pashtuns, and limited Indian influence. To this end, Pakistan has allowed an insurgent sanctuary in its border areas to persist, offering a safe haven to Afghan Taliban and associated militant groups including the Haqqani Taliban Network in North Waziristan Agency. Pakistani leaders have tolerated this due to their concerns that Pakistan will be left alone to confront an unstable, an unfriendly, or an Indian-influenced Afghanistan on its borders. Accordingly, Pakistan seeks to play a key role in the peace and reconciliation process to advance a political settlement that considers Pakistani interests.”

Al Qaeda relying on Haqqani leaders 

The Department of Defense report also says that even though al Qaeda has been degraded, it is increasingly relying on a “shrinking cadre of experienced leaders primarily inside a Haqqani-facilitated safe haven in North Waziristan.”

“The insurgency’s funding comes “from a variety of external sources, including Persian Gulf-based donors, state and non-state actors in Pakistan and Iran, and various transnational and criminal enterprises, but remains dependent on poppy cultivation and the narcotics trade as its primary source of revenue. Insurgents suspend operational efforts to provide labour for the poppy harvest, which typically begins in April and continues to June, as revenue from the poppy harvest is critical to insurgent operations throughout the year.”

Pakistan-based outfits, said the report, also support the insurgency through sanctuary, training infrastructure, and financial and operational support. “The insurgency also receives material support from Iran, although to a lesser degree than from Pakistan.” The report cites the corridor from Pakistan’s Kurram Agency through Azra District as the most vulnerable area in the east of Afghanistan.

The report says that the implementation of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement has not been realised due to political tensions between Pakistan and India.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • HRK
    May 1, 2012 - 9:33PM

    And yet you are still contemplating on whether to apologize for the Salala check post attack or not?

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  • Hangi
    May 1, 2012 - 9:40PM

    if Nato supply opened, this massive equipment could be used against Pak civilians and army.

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  • Baby Ka Husband
    May 1, 2012 - 9:50PM

    Can Pakistan hold its nerve at this critical moment in history??? Can it fulfill its desire to be counted in this world?? Can it defend the pressure it is likely to face?? If it can, NATO would be forced to stand down and leave Afghanistan. NATO situation is much worse than they say. The conflict is poised for a final showdown in history and Pakistan could emerge a stronger nation in the region if it can prevail.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    May 1, 2012 - 9:51PM

    I heard little while ago nothing gonna happend we dont depend on pakistan why now so begging?

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  • Bhindian
    May 1, 2012 - 10:01PM

    US should curb indias anti Pakistan activities in Afghanistan before they moan about Haqqani Network.

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  • May 1, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Stop drones, stop interfering in our internal matters, You’ll get a positive response from us

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  • Imran Mohammad
    May 1, 2012 - 10:11PM

    Why not re-route the supplies through India as a US general said earlier? Indians are quiet on this new item !!!

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  • Cautious
    May 1, 2012 - 10:28PM

    The Afghan National Police remains
    under-equipped, says the report, and
    there will be shortages of equipment
    especially vehicles for Afghan
    National Army (ANA) units due to the
    closure of the GLOCs.

    So what’s Pakistan’s excuse for depriving the Afghan police and military? Perhaps all that public rhetoric about supporting Afghanistan is nonsense.

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  • Truth Hurts
    May 1, 2012 - 10:41PM

    Good lesson for these ungrateful Afghanis as they deserve that closure!! They should stop giving shelter to Indian terrorists and blaming Pakistan!

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  • bangash
    May 1, 2012 - 10:57PM

    Issue is stranded equipment in Pakistan and cost of withdrawl using northern routes. The current campaign in Afghanistan is unaffected. I find it funny some folks thinking Pakistan is going to emerge as stronger nation just because it blocked NATO supplies !!

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  • Loyal to Pakistan
    May 1, 2012 - 11:05PM

    Why should we care.

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  • Parvez
    May 1, 2012 - 11:06PM

    The question is ‘ has Pakistan as a nation benefitted from allowing this route to be used ? ‘

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    May 1, 2012 - 11:24PM

    @bangash:
    You find it funny but you don’t advance a counter argument??? If US is preparing such reports for Congress then under your premise it is just a form filling exercise??? It is not I can assure you. This will be used by Congress to deny Pakistan aid and materials and it will impact Pakistan negatively. But would you not therefore see how this is hurting the NATO mission??? All lethal military supplies and fuel (from Refineries in Pakistan) passes through Pakistan and their shortage to NATO is starting to hurt. Of course USA is not to spell out that they are on their knees but an intelligent person can decipher between the lines!!!!

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  • Jamset Ram Sing
    May 1, 2012 - 11:35PM

    @Cautious:
    Dear Cautious.
    You make a good point when you ask why Pakistan is not supplying the Afghan police/military. Unfortunately, the politics of the general region are very convoluted and we can never be sure what the underlying reasons are for what happens there. However, one major reason could be that Pakistan knows that the Taliban will be around long after the U.S. have gone. Maybe the Pakistan Government/Military are attempting to follow a fine line between NATO, the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. It does not satisfy anybody really, but the Government is not unduly upsetting anybody either.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 2, 2012 - 12:03AM

    @Ali Tanoli: “I heard little while ago nothing gonna happened we don’t depend on pakistan why now so begging?”

    They never said they have no impact. They have clearly said they would like supply route to be opened. But in order to do so they are unwilling to tender an unconditional apology or stop drones.
    This was an internal report on the impact of the route closure, so unclear how you came to the conclusion that they are begging.1.
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  • ayesha_khan
    May 2, 2012 - 12:40AM

    @Imran Mohammad: “Why not re-route the supplies through India as a US general said earlier? Indians are quiet on this new item !!!”

    It was a transcription error. That report was eventually corrected to NDN instead of India. NDN is the route through Turkmenistan.

    The way I see it, this is an internal NATO report. Does shutting supply route have an impact on NDN? Of course. Is the impact perceived to be large enough for US to be willing to apologize or stop drones? Does not look like.

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  • ayesha_khan
    May 2, 2012 - 12:48AM

    @Bhindian: “US should curb indias anti Pakistan activities in Afghanistan before they moan about Haqqani Network.”

    Pakistan has not presented any such evidence to US (let alone India). No-one other than Pakistanis believe that thee are 19 Indian consulates in Afghanistan creating terrorism in Pakistan. Equally no-one except Pakistanis believe that Hafiz Saeed had nothing to do with 26/11/ and that JuD is not just a front for LeT which is banned by US.

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 2, 2012 - 2:23AM

    Do you really think that NATO cares anymore??/ They have been fighting this war on two fronts for too long, and Pakistan’s duplicity is now acknowledged by them, hence the BS about supply routes ! They are still dealing with the mess and without Pakistan too !
    That’s the reason, why POTUS will not be visiting Islamabad ! Its obvious that Afghanistan is more important than Pakistan !!!!

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  • Romm
    May 2, 2012 - 3:48AM

    Good thing about this closure is that Indian’s Rattling in Pakistani blogs have Decreased considerably. Recommend

  • Jamset Ram Sing
    May 2, 2012 - 7:01AM

    @ayesha_khan:
    I do not think we require any evidence, any more, to know that if the U.S. is involved their intelligence services will be creating mischief of one kind or another, and it almost certainly will not be in anybodies best interests except those of America, and even then it is doubtful if even the U.S. is getting any benefits either. I do not think that we should take anyone, at a senior level of politics, economics or the military, too seriously. Their basic qualification for being at a senior level is to have psychiatric problems, and that is why the world is in such a mess.

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  • Basit
    May 2, 2012 - 9:04AM

    Afghan army has hostile designs against Pakistan as they still want to conquer “Pushtunistan”. Any arms given to them by NATO will ultimately be used against Pakistan. We cannot afford to have drug addicted Afghan army on our Western border. They have no discipline as well documented and would become just another rouge force with better equipment.

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  • Amjad
    May 2, 2012 - 9:52AM

    @ayesha_khan: Until Indian sponsoring terrorism stops, there can be little hope for peace in the region. It is well known that India is supporting criminals in Afghanistan to commit anti state activities in Pakistan.

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  • Nasir
    May 2, 2012 - 10:46AM

    @ayesha_khan:
    Forget about Hafiz Saeed, your evidences are drain down. Even US is not considering them let alone Pak.

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  • SaudiRules
    May 2, 2012 - 6:02PM

    First we single handedly destroyed the former world super power USSR and now by blocking NATO supplies for 5 months, our brilliant strategic planer, defender of the nation, have managed to bring to their knees another superpower, USA. Next, watch out china! :)Recommend

  • May 2, 2012 - 6:07PM

    If the supplies are blocked the war in Afghanistan will be affected(Note, only affected, not lost hopelessly). If the periodic loans from WB and IMF stop getting the go-ahead from the US, economy of Pakistan is at jeopardy.

    US will survive, will Pakistan? More appropriately put, US will still be the largest economy in the World, with a Super Power status and associated power; will Pakistan be able to clean the image of a failing Country?

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  • Muddassir
    May 2, 2012 - 6:13PM

    we simply do not give a dame … as you have no regard for our lives and country.

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  • Hedgefunder
    May 2, 2012 - 6:28PM

    @BruteForce: l
    The answer is NO ! But in Pakistan the problem is their Ghairat ! Hence the people tolerate these rulers, who have always lied to them since its inception as to, “How great they are”.
    If only they can come out of their little coccoon to see the reality around them and the crises they face, it may be serious wake up call !

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  • Jamset Ram Sing
    May 2, 2012 - 7:08PM

    @BruteForce:
    The U.S. will certainly survive, but at what level? In the current war America has been outplayed every step of the way, and now its only plan is to found a way out of the ridiculous Afghan mess they have created. Osama bin Laden is credited with saying in so many words “We do not want to win a war with America. We just want to keep them fighting and send them broke”. I think Osama’s plan has worked brilliantly. It worked when he was alive and it is still working a long time after his death. America certainly has a large amount of military hardware, but it has not really won a war since WW2, and all it does is create more and more disgruntled people who’s only aim in life is to become militants and kill Americans et al.
    On the economic level America has truly become a disaster, and it is doubtful if she will ever recover. Manufacturing has gone by the board, the best job most college graduates can hope for is serving hamburgers at McDonalds, the current account deficit is over 16 trillion dollars and climbing, the overall debt is getting closer to 200 trillion dollars and climbing, the U.S. military is fighting a war with money the Government does not have, and it could be argued that China now has a larger economy than America. If China does not have a larger economy than America it is very close and certainly more viable.
    America may have a chance of not becoming a failed state, but it will need to go home with its tail between its legs, it will have to stop attacking countries that have done it no harm, it will need to bring its troops home, it will need to start closing down overseas bases, it will need to start on the bread and butter items such as refurbishing domestic infrastructure, it will have to face the daunting task of creating American jobs, it will need to start creating a good education system, it will need to start creating a health system the average American can afford, and it will need to start thinking about how it will be able to support an aging population and continue to pay pensions. These are just a few of the problems facing America, and they have a chance of solving them, but not with their current mind set. They have to get out of their war economy thinking and get back to basics. If they do not they will go the way of all past empires, and continue their downward slide, making life more and more miserable for themselves and the rest of the world. These are just a few of the major problems facing America, but if they do not make a start on them soon they will become a spent force.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    May 3, 2012 - 9:38AM

    @ayesha_khan

    If you believe Hafiz Saeed is involved in Mumbai attack then you must have some concrete proof, I will advice you to submit those proofs to US and win the $10m bounty.

    If you are talking on the bases of media propaganda then I am sorry US bounty is not for propaganda it’s for proof and evidences.

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  • vigilant
    May 5, 2012 - 1:10PM

    Where is US CENTCOM????

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