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US has options despite Pak supply lines cut following NATO attack

Washington , Wed, 30 Nov 2011 ANI

Washington, Nov 30 (ANI): Pakistan might have cut its supply lines for the US military in Afghanistan following last Saturday's NATO attack that claimed around 28 Pakistani soldier's lives, but this is not the end for Washington to make sure that their soldiers there are safe in the war-torn country.


In 2009, the US military received 90 percent of its non-military supplies like food, fuel, toiletries, and others through the Pakistani port city of Karachi. Tens of thousands of shipping containers were then trucked up through the Pakistani border towns of Chaman and Landi Kotal into Afghanistan.


However, today, the US military has shifted around 40 percent of its overall logistics supply up to a Northern Distribution Network, coming through Russia and several other former Soviet republics, a Christian Science Monitor editorial said.


The Pentagon was planning to increase that overall traffic to 75 percent by the end of this year, and the Pakistani shutdown could speed up that process, it added.


Although costs along the Northern route are almost double that of the Pakistan route, the Northern route is reportedly still cheaper than air drops, which cost the US military as much as 14,000 dollars per ton.


The Northern route relies on a number of former Soviet nations with pro-Western sentiments, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, and Georgia on the Black Sea, as the initial landing spot for the US military's supplies.


On the Latvian route, cargo is carried by truck and train through Russia, and then trucked onward through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering Afghanistan at the border post of Termez. The Georgian route avoids Russia, crossing into Azerbaijan, crossing the Caspian Sea into Kazakhstan, and then down through Uzbekistan before reaching Afghanistan.


Officially, Pakistan has voiced its frustration at the amount of US military materiel that is shipped across its territory into Afghanistan, but Pakistan also receives millions of dollars in tariff revenues for the use of its ports and roads.


Even if the US military was entirely reliant on Pakistan for its logistics train, the US Army, by policy, maintains a 45-day supply of fuel on the ground in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesmen say. This means that US troops on the ground would be able to continue their operations, and remain insulated from the logistics or diplomatic problems that are endemic to Pakistan, the editorial added. (ANI)


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