Only 40 percent of the US military supplies come through Pakistan

Previous post: The truth of NATO supply lines via Pakistan

The testimony of Lt. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, deputy chief of staff for logistics, to the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee, as reported in the media (see Defense News), should lay to rest a few prevalent myths (like The Economist says that Pakistan “lets America drive three-quarters of its war supplies from Karachi”) about the US dependency on supply routes through Pakistan.

There are four facts which are worth remembering from this testimony. One, only 40% of US military supplies to Afghanistan come via Pakistan, and the US intends to bring it down to 25% eventually.

Two, US army keeps 45 days worth of fuel on the ground in Afghanistan so that operations can withstand severe disruptions to its supply lines.

Three, if the Pakistani routes were shut down, the US would increase its use of airdrops and flow more in from the northen route. However the northern route takes much longer and is more expensive.

Four, the US is also experimenting with shipping more supplies to a nearby “friendly country” (like Bahrain) and then flying them into Afghanistan using C-17s. The US Army is examining whether this route is cheaper in the long run because it avoids pilferage and other kinds of attacks.

With all these initiatives already in place, and if the proposed US military drawdown from Afghanistan does commence soon, it is highly possible that the US will not remain dependent on supply lines through Pakistan. The implications of that scenario should not be difficult for Pakistani generals to comprehend. Unfortunately for them, this piece of news is unlikely to instill confidence and optimism at a time both are in short supply in that army.

DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.