Saturday, March 03, 2012

Can Pakistan Leave America Bottled Up in Afghanistan?

Western forces in Afghanistan are finding it's not especially easy to get out.   The Brits recently negotiated an exit route via Kazakhstan for removal of their equipment and weapons.   British equipment will travel north all the way to the Baltic where the stuff will be loaded aboard ships for delivery home.

The Americans have even more stuff to get out and, for them, the way out appears to be limited to Pakistan which has inconveniently closed its borders to Western forces in Afghanistan.   Now the Americans are saying they won't be able to get out in 2014 unless Pakistan re-opens those border crossings.

US General William Fraser told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 28 that the so-called Northern Distribution Network, which passes through Central Asia, was unable to handle the large number of shipments or all of the types of cargo that need to be moved out of Afghanistan to keep the withdrawal on schedule.

Fraser said existing agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan allowed equipment that is now in Afghanistan to pass through their territory as the war draws down - but not any weapons.

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