Seeking Northern Routes into Afghanistan

Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb, commander of US Transportation Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that he is confident enough flexibility exists in the supply lines headed into Afghanistan that he does not see a potential single point failure, even if the US loses access to Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, a key airlift hub for the region. But sustaining the forces in Afghanistan is not an easy task either, he acknowledged. “You probably couldn’t find a tougher place from a logistics challenge [perspective] of getting this stuff in,” said McNabb, adding that TRANSCOM has been relying on air transit and the land routes through Pakistan from Karachi. The US military is facing the additional challenge of bolstering its troop levels in Afghanistan by 17,000 and sustaining the larger force. McNabb said TRANSCOM is working, along with the State Department, US Central Command, and US European Command, to secure supply routes into Afghanistan from countries lying north of it. He said “a number of countries” are willing to help, but did not specify which ones. As of now, if TRANSCOM averages about 78 containers a day into Afghanistan, the supply chain will hold up, McNabb said. (McNabb’s written testimony)