MILITARY: logistics (was Re: An Essay from an Afghan-American)

From: James Rogers (
Date: Sun Sep 16 2001 - 12:18:25 MDT

On 9/16/01 8:18 AM, "Dan Clemmensen" <> wrote:

> Samantha Atkins wrote:
>> This is a very good piece. I question one thing though. Why do
>> we have to move the troops through Pakistan? Can we airdrop
>> enough troops and supplies for what needs to be done?
> In a word: No. It is essentially impossible to sustain a ground
> operation by air-drop (i.e. parachute) or even by airlift (i.e.,
> building or capturing runways) unless your supply base is very
> nearby or the operation is tiny. "Amateurs study tactics.
> Professionals study logistics." Take a look at a map. Notice
> how far Afghanistan (and specifically Kabul and the Kandahar)
> are from anywhere except Pakistan. Note that cargo aircraft
> cannot take off and land from aircraft carriers. Remember the
> Gulf war? The US spent six months building up the supply base.

There are a few people on this list that have some practical knowledge of
these things. The situation is pretty much this:

We could support a division or two of light infantry and maybe an Air
Cavalry unit in Afghanistan. Note that for rugged mountainous terrain,
these units are among the best suited, particularly if backed up by some air
support. History has shown that heavy mechanized units do not fare well in
many parts of Afghanistan -- ask the Russians.

However, there is a wildcard in the Russians. I'm reading this morning that
they have mobilized units near the Afghan border. It is quite possible that
we could get logistical support and a heavy mechanized hammer for the flat
areas from the Russians.

Note that the Russian force structure has difficulty working in extremely
mountainous terrain; the Afghans learned this years ago and used it against
them quite effectively. If the US provided security in the heavily
mountainous regions, something we are capable of doing effectively, it would
give the Russians a chance to move heavy equipment where needed.

If the Russians can control the plains, and leave the mountainous regions to
the kinds of units that the Americans will be able to support logistically,
any groups of militant or military Afghans will find themselves severely
squeezed. The targets are not numerically numerous, but they did learn how
to use the terrain to their advantage against the Russians. The ability of
the US to control the mountainous terrain, something we are well-structured
for, will determine whether or not this play is successful.

-James Rogers

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