Politics of the supply routes to Afghanistan

Posted by admin on August 24, 2015

April – 9 – 2009

Article by LETHAL FORCE, senior DFI member. born in India brought up in the US,

Gulf War veteranafghan-8001

It is an established principle of warfare that controlling the supply lines is essential to winning a war. The Afghan supply line question has become even more urgent now with a surge of 30,000 more troops planned to be sent to Afghanistan in the next 18 months. USA has relied mainly on Pakistan for supplies,but growing frustration from escalated attacks from extremists has NATO seeking other routes I am going to discuss the current and alternate supply routes ,the different nations and politics involved in getting supplies to Afghanistan


Currently 75% of all the supplies for Afghanistan go thru Pakistan. Supplies arrive at the port of Karachi and are sent to contractors, who hire truckers to get them to the Khyber pass 700 miles away. Many of the truckers are poorly paid and are refusing to take the job for fear of their lives, many truckers have been kidnapped or killed by the insurgents. The khyber pass has about 400 trucks passing thru a day but that number has fallen to about 100 trucks all with Pakistani troops to provide escort. Supported by Pakistan’s JI =Jamaat e Islami party the truckers declared a boycott of all military cargo transported to Afghanistan. In a sign of the increased insurgency land bridges have been destroyed ,supply trucks have been torched ; as well as disruptions from the port of Karachi have caused extensive delays in supplies reaching Afghanistan. In a response to these developments Pakistan has carried out short term operations in the tribal areas which have been unsuccessful only to have the militants return to resume attacks. Initially the Taliban first struck heavy slow moving trucks than when USA pressured Pakistan to beef up their presence on the roads the insurgents started attacking the trucks at truck stops in Peshawar, in one incident last year 100 trucks were torched. NATO claims the attacks do not interrupt operations since 60-90 days of fuel and food are kept on hand but are seeking alternate routes. The short term Pakistani operations against the insurgents have been unsuccessful because many analyst feel that Taliban sympathizers in the Pakistani army either alert the insurgents ahead of time or allows them to cross the border freely. USA has tried it’s best to secure the supply lines thru Pakistan while maintaining a distance from Pakistan, currently Predator drones carry out attacks on militant hideouts,many of the drones are believed to be operating from bases in Pakistan even though the Pakistani government denies it. Obama has assured the Pakistani government that troops will not be sent into Pakistan to get to the root of the problem . After all the failures and frustrations Obama has tripled aid to Pakistan and increased military and non military assistance in hopes of keeping Pakistani supply routes open if all other options fail. After 7 years of the same policy, Obama has not come up with anything original only increased the amount of aid in the hope of succeeding in a failing strategy by throwing more money at it. But Obama has for the first time asked for transparency to aid given to Pakistan and tied the aid to terrorism . Pakistan has used the supply lines as leverage and a bargaining chip, to reduce this leverage and increase the chance of victory NATO is seeking alternate supply routes .

Central Asia/Russia

Uzbekistan has agreed to allow US to transit non-military goods to Afghanistan. USA is trying for similar agreements with Russia, Kazakastan and Turkmenistan. The deal was welcomed relief after Krygyzstan recently voted to close the vital Manas air base a 24 hour operation playing a key role in transporting troops, refueling combat airplanes and medical evacuations . The closure came after Russia promised 2 billion in aid to kyrgyzstan. Which NATO felt the aid was a bribe and a hostile act by Russia . Alternatives to Manas are being sought in Tajikistan where there are many Soviet era air bases. 80% of all the fuel transported to Afghanistan is sent from Central Asia. The Central Asian supply lines also come with their share of problems. Many nations in Central asia are dictatorships and Islamic ; who do not view democracy for Afghanistan as important cause and view the war as a greater war against Islam, convincing them of their own Taliban and Al queda threat has been no easy task, also Russia still has a strong presence in the region and has the final word in most matters. Countries like Turkmenistan get much of their revenue from GAZPROM the Russian oil conglomerate and would do little to upset Russia in fear of losing their revenue. A plan was proposed that involved Turkey-Georgia-Azerbajan to the Caspian sea to Turkmenistan route which became to complex containing multiple land and sea routes and roads needed to be built as well as ports needed to be developed, further complicating the plan was the Georgia –Russian conflict, as well as organized crime groups requesting large sums for protection money . Russia is still wary of USA ‘s role in Afghanistan, Russians feel USA used the premise of 9/11 to build a presence in Afghanistan for strategic encirclement of not only Russia but also China and Iran. This belief may have lead to the creation of SCO the Shanghai corporation ,which presents itself as an energy organization but also has military implications. Currently China and Russia control the SCO with Central Asian nation members, there are also many observer nations from other parts of Asia like India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia who may become future members, the future role of SCO could limit US presence in the region and possibly grow to become a direct threat to NATO ‘s position as the sole military alliance as well as reduce the role of UN in world affairs. Recently Russia requested Afghanistan to become a member of SCO, a move which challenged USA’s role in the war. Russia has expressed her willingness to cooperate with NATO in Afghanistan with the supply lines in return has asked for assurances from NATO to keep Ukraine and Georgia from becoming future NATO members to prevent any further encirclement and also requested USA to drop their plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe ,no assurances have been given by USA in this regard. Many of the routes thru Central Asia are viable only if relations between Russia and USA are maintained. The routes would also allow Russia to maintain leverage over USA . Russia would also look bad to lose in a place where they helped USA to win.


India has been the biggest benefactor to Afghanistan in aid and in humanitarian relief. Afghanistan has become a proxy war for India and Pakistan. India and Russia backed the Northern alliance while Pakistan with Saudi funding backed the Taliban. Pakistan has very little interest in getting rid of the Taliban, who they view as strategic depth for their proxy war in Kashmir. In the war on terror Pakistan has now taken the reluctant role of destroying their Taliban creation. In this struggle the Indian embassy in Kabul was bombed by a suicide bomber where India ,Afghanistan and USA blamed Pakistan intelligence for the attack. Indian foreign minister pranav mukherjee and Hamid Karzai have signed a deal to ship goods to Afghanistan from Iran thru a road built by India. The road is a multi lane highway which cost 150 million dollars to build which runs from Delaram to Zaranj on the Iranian border which connects to the Iranian port of Chahbar. The 220km road is a part of a 1.1 billion dollar reconstruction of Afghanistan by India. The road has triggered fears in Pakistan of encirclement by India. This road has been viewed by NATO as an alternate route for supplies to Afghanistan. Some analysts believe a deal could be struck with Tehran and New Delhi which would redirect most if not all the traffic going to Karachi to the Iranian port. This route is also the most practical route it is cheaper and quicker than air routes and cheaper than the multiple sea routes as well as avoiding Pakistan it avoids all the SCO nations since Iran has yet to become a member. It would also make fuel supplies from the Middle East much easier . This supply route would free up dependence of USA from Pakistan and give India a free hand to tackle the terror from across the border, like the recent Mumbai attack where USA asked India to refrain from a response due to the Pakistani blackmail of pulling the troops from the Afghan border, it would also help with further reconstruction of Afghanistan and broaden the war against the Taliban to a point where India has contemplated sending troops against the Taliban. In another unlikely scenario not completely avoiding Pakistan . Analysts have suggested India can receive supplies in an Indian port and transit them thru Indian and Pakistani Kashmir to Afghanistan . The terrain would need much development and take precious time, as well as resolve by the Pakistanis to eliminate terrorist groups operating in the area But many in History like the British have already failed to do so in the treacherous mountain regions as well as the complex Indian and Pakistani history make this last possibility impossible. Indians Analysts have suggested rather than go thru that route supplies from Indian ports can be flown to Afghanistan if all other options are exhausted

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Another option NATO is considering is to establish diplomacy with Iran in hopes of getting a supply line thru Iran to Afghanistan. USA has not had relations with Iran for 3 decades, the requests are being made by other NATO members like Germany. A stable Afghanistan would be in Iran’s best interest since it is a neighboring country. Establishing relations with Iran will not be easy, the Bush administration took a hardball approach with Iran’s nuclear program with repeated threats of war. Iran also been deemed one of the axis of evil by Bush. Iran has been accused of fueling the insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan against US troops. Iran has made repeated threats to destroy Israel and as openly backed the terrorist organization Hezbollah against Israel. There is also a fear asking Iran for help may lead to a compromise in Iran’s nuclear program, Iran has said they are a NPT member and have made threats of breaking the treaty if they are forced to give up their nuclear program. Recently India, Russia and Iran held their own meeting to discuss the future of Afghanistan their role in it. India and Russia can both play a role in helping mediate a supply route with Iran, since both countries have always maintained relations with Iran even after the West broke all diplomatic ties. Opening diplomatic relations may help with a number of issues from the supply route to Afghanistan to questions about Iran;s nuclear and missile programs as well as a de escalation in the bitter Iranian and Israeli relations. In new developments in a meeting between India,Iran and Russia over Afghanistan a proposal was made by USA to form a group involving Russia, China, India, Iran and Gulf nations as well as Central Asian nations to unite to defeat the Taliban
The Afghan supply lines are more complex than delivering goods to the war effort they have changed the whole dynamics of the region, to the point where all the major powers have to cooperate in an effort to defeat the Taliban and bring stability to the region.

Articles, Indian Army
Indian Radar Imaging Satellite a Highly Capable System

Posted by WebMaster On April – 8 – 2009
Sriharikota space port

news confirmed by PTI

India will launch a spy satellite from Sriharikota spaceport on April 20 primarily to keep an eye on its borders round-the-clock and help the Government in anti-infiltration and anti-terrorist operations.
The 300-kg radar-imaging satellite has been built by Israel and is set to blast-off on board India’s home-grown rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

This remote-sensing advanced imaging satellite, to be positioned 550 km above the earth, has all-weather capabilities.

It carries Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, which can take images during day, night and all weather conditions including under cloud cover, a capability that Indian satellites do not have.

Two main properties distinguish SAR from optical imagery,the SAR is an active instrument, it generates its own illumination of the scene to be viewed just similar to a camera with flash,the satellite,s illunination is coherent meaning all the light is in phase just like a laser so it does not disperse over the distance between the satellite and the earth’s surface. SAR radar can measure both intensity and phase of the reflected light leading to high texture and three dimensational capabilities,SAR can detect small changes over time in a given geographical area as proved by measuring phase differences in exactly aligned images of the same ground area

Indian Space Research Organisation is tight-lipped over the mission, not giving out much details.

A senior ISRO official, who spoke to PTI on condition of anonymity, said that the significance of the satellite is its all-weather capability.

“It will be primarily used for defence and surveillance. The satellite also has good application in the area of disaster management and in managing cyclones, floods and agriculture-related activities,” he said.

sections from PTI