Russian Tensions Could Affect Afghanistan Withdrawal

There are some concerns about the long-term use of the Northern Distribution Network now that tensions with Russia over the country’s military operations in Ukraine are escalating, Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Paul Selva told Senate legislators on Tuesday. Selva, who has been tapped to lead US Transportation Command, was speaking to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing. The massive supply network winds through Russia and Central Asia and serves as an alternate to Pakistan for moving supplies into and out of Afghanistan. “If the Russians were to take action, we have other options [to the Russian section of the NDN] to move that cargo out,” said Selva. However, he said that would require re-routing some 20 percent of subsistence cargo, such as food and non-combat materiel, which moves through the massive network. Selva said even though Afghanistan has yet to sign a bilateral security agreement, there is enough capacity in multiple transit networks to redeploy cargo out of Afghanistan through the “early fall,” but beyond that he would need to consult with US Central Command leadership. “As each day passes [without a BSA], our options decrease,” said Selva.