US finds another Afghan supply route

posted at 11:30 am on February 21, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

After apparently losing Kyrgyzstan in a bidding war with Moscow, the US has established new supply lines to Afghanistan with two other former Soviet republics.  Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to allow NATO to transit troops and materiel into the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda:

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will allow the transit by land of non-military NATO cargo to Afghanistan, a U.S. commander said on Friday, as Washington seeks alternative supply routes for its troops there.

Rear Admiral Mark Harnitchek of the U.S. Transportation Command said the United States planned to send 50 to 200 containers a week to Afghanistan through the two countries.

The announcement follows a decision by pro-Moscow Kyrgyzstan to close the only U.S. air base in Central Asia, accusing Washington of refusing to pay more rent for the base.

It sent a formal notice to the U.S. ambassador in the capital Bishkek on Friday, giving U.S. troops 180 days to leave.

The Obama administration says that they can still work out a deal with Bishkek on Manas AFB, but the new deal suggests that they know they’ve lost out to Vladimir Putin.  Kyrgyz PM Bakiyev announced the Russian partnership over two weeks ago, and it appears that the US did nothing to outbid Moscow for the transit rights.  The Kyrgyz parliament voted two days ago to evict the US, with its members openly complaining that they had to take the best deal offered — and that the US hadn’t bothered to bid.

The routes through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan might be better, as long as they last, but they will be more problematic.  There is some unrest among Uzbeks anyway, with an Islamist militancy providing most of the trouble — which certainly will not welcome a US or NATO presence.  The Uzbeks have an economic alliance with Putin as well, and have at one time frozen assets of American corporations, accusing them of tax fraud.  The Uzbeks seem rather unsteady allies for supply lines of significance.

Tajikistan is better story.  It has a more stable democracy, less internal strife, and already has reached out to NATO in the latter’s Partnership for Peace program.  They want to look West rather than East.  They have more poverty than the other independent republics in the area and have already proven welcoming of Western investment.  However, as a map indicates, they are dominated by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China on its borders.  If the Uzbeks suspend overflight privileges, the Tajik assistance won’t be worth much.

And that’s their positions today.  As we speak, I imagine that Putin has already called Tashkent and Dushanbe to have a word with the heads of state on how he can outbid the Obama administration.  As the past couple of weeks have shown, he won’t be bluffing.


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Beware “lease” loophole clause allowing hosting country to break the lease following US improvements to the property at our expense.

Russia wins. Putin trumps.

maverick muse on February 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will allow the transit by land of non-military NATO cargo to Afghanistan, a U.S. commander said on Friday, as Washington seeks alternative supply routes for its troops there.

Is there some special definition of non-military NATO cargo? What other kind is being shipped?

a capella on February 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM

I thought we already had Uzbekistan, and that that from there we launched the invasion in the first place. And besides… Kyrgyzstan doesn’t even border Afghanistan, does it?

Glenn Jericho on February 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM

I would hate to be a driver on one of those trucks snaking its way through hostile territory. Death awaits the UN, and its drivers, there.

Mojave Mark on February 21, 2009 at 11:43 AM

there some special definition of non-military NATO cargo? What other kind is being shipped?

a capella on February 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM

Beer for the German soldiers.

rbj on February 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Wonderful analysis, Ed. US lost one route – blame Obama. US acquired two routes – blame Obama.

P.S. Tajikistan has a stable democracy. Which probably is why it’s run by the same person for 17 years. Aren’t you just a bit ashamed to be so clueless and so serious at the same time?

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

RBJ
My thoughts exactly. What else will we send that is non military – The Dixie Chicks?

james hooker on February 21, 2009 at 11:50 AM

P.S. Tajikistan is even more dependent on Russia. They barely have border patrol there. Russia protects their border with Afghanistan. Other than that, yeah they’re basically a NATO member.

:) Unbelievable.

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Help!

A quick off topic question…

Why am I allowed to comment on the Blog and Top Picks, but not on Headlines. I click the comment link and I see other people’s comments, but it tells me at the bottom that I am not allowed to comment.

Thanks!

RadioFreeUSA on February 21, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Kyrgyz PM Bakiyev announced the Russian partnership over two weeks ago, and it appears that the US did nothing to outbid Moscow for the transit rights.

More proof that the Chicago Thug is not ready for prime time.

Zorro on February 21, 2009 at 11:56 AM

As we speak, I imagine that Putin has already called Tashkent and Dushanbe to have a word with the heads of state on how he can outbid the Obama administration.

How long will it Putin to create a “South Ossetia” scenario in Tajikistan?

reaganaut on February 21, 2009 at 11:57 AM

How long will it take Putin to create a “South Ossetia” scenario in Tajikistan?

reaganaut on February 21, 2009 at 11:58 AM

According to the CIA, the head of government has been in office since 1999, PM Oqil OQILOV. They hold regular elections, have three parties with significant representation in their parliament (including an Islamist party), and — again according to the CIA, which I linked in the post — “it is now in the process of strengthening its democracy and transitioning to a free market economy after its 1992-97 civil war.”

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Food glorious food. THAT would be “non-military” cargo.

Consider the massive amounts of supplies needed to support even a modest military force.

keyboarddude on February 21, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Uzbeks, the weak link in the great chain of Soviet socialism.

BDavis on February 21, 2009 at 12:06 PM

This could be a problem for Obama:

Tajikistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, especially efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence traffickers; despite evidence of low- and mid-level officials’ complicity in trafficking, the government did not punish any public officials for trafficking complicity during 2007

reaganaut on February 21, 2009 at 12:07 PM

how do we get to tajikistan in the first place?

our marines will die there, I’m afraid.

kelley in virginia on February 21, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Russia is by far more free and democratic in every respect from freedom of press to how elections are conducted. And Russia isn’t democratic at all.

It’s one thing to stand up to Russian pointless attempts to pick a fight. It’s quite another to say: the hell with authoritarian Russia, let me embrace you, my democratic Tajik friend.

The biggest Tajik achievement is that they aren’t Iran. Russia has contributed a lot to prevent them from becoming Iran. Hence Russian insistence on dispatching their border patrol at times where the border with Afghanistan was practically transparent.

I do think the US should have tried to keep the base. But your analysis is simplistic because I suspect you don’t know facts.

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 12:16 PM

how do we get to tajikistan in the first place?

Take a left just past Crapistan.

JiangxiDad on February 21, 2009 at 12:16 PM

The problem with land locked Nations is that you have to transport through their neighbors. How about we do somethiing different? The fight in Georgia points to a worry by Russia that the US does have an alternate, non-Russian route available, if we pushed hard to get it: Georgia to Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. It would be rough going to get started, but the southern routes are where the majority of our supplies come through (with only 10% by air), and those go through hostile Taliban/al Qaeda territory which makes the alternate route for heavy supplies necessary.

This would be hard, but cost, after the over trillion dollars spent to prop up banks and pay off political cronies, is a non-issue. Those on the Left lost that with this last deal which eclipsed all of Iraq war spending at one shot… plus the Left has always been supporters of fighting in Afghanistan. This requires skill and acumen on the diplomatic front, sadly lacking but a ‘trial by fire’ would help shake up the State Dept.

If it could be done, the direct route between Iran and Russia has a US presence across it. Georgia and Azerbaijan become vital to fighting the war. Russia is put on notice that interfering with that supply route is an act of war on its part. And we open up a new and vital trade route that will benefit central asia.

Of course that takes some vision and some ‘hope & change’ in our approach on things, plus an aggressive diplomatic effort to help our military effort. All things the Left has been asking for. I do support that as it is right for the fight, our troops and the entire region to be given an option to oppressive poverty and a chance to join the global marketplace. That is, unfortunately, too forward looking for the rearview mirror and complaining current administration.

ajacksonian on February 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM

P.S. Tajikistan has a stable democracy. Which probably is why it’s run by the same person for 17 years. Aren’t you just a bit ashamed to be so clueless and so serious at the same time?

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

I can think of another supposed stable democracy that was run by the same guys for 12 years – and in fact his reign only ended because he died in office.

18-1 on February 21, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Don’t tell Dianne Feinstein. She has a bad habit of betraying our country.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Interesting story. Thanks.

AnninCA on February 21, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Morrissy, “Non Military” does not include troops, you should correct your story.

robtr on February 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Food glorious food. THAT would be “non-military” cargo.

Consider the massive amounts of supplies needed to support even a modest military force.

keyboarddude on February 21, 2009 at 12:04 PM

Sooo… an MRE… having a Mil number on it… military or nonmilitary?

Is a TENT a military supply? or would it be OK if they bought it at REI? or Cabellas?

Stated standard is MILITARY, not weapon supplies.

Other intersting thing, this will allow them to INSPECT our supplies, as they transit…

Bush started Afganistant with what he thought were secure unlimited supply lines through Pakistan… those are no longer secure… and about to get less secure with the latest deal between the Pak gov and the Islamists.

Hate to say it folks… but unless UNLIMITED supply lines can be secured, fighting in Afganistan is STUPID and we are wasting the lives of our Troops…

Very simply folks… no supply lines? No chance of victory.

Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Can’t Blaggo or Al Gore help out here with this……

Cinday Blackburn on February 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM

A low-level Chicago drug dealer could’ve sealed the deal with Kyrgystan. Wish I could say it was odd that Barry blew that one.

Christien on February 21, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Decide for yourself.

Pakistan Defence

Russia jumps into Waziristan?
Saturday, November 24, 2007

A report from Afghanistan says that Afghan troops caught a man wearing a burqa and 1000 pounds of explosives meant to be used against the American and NATO forces in the country. Andre Vladimirovich Bataloff, a 27-year-old man from Siberia “with a flowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes” insisted he was a religious student who travelled to Pakistan last year………….

There have been reports from Swat that foreigners with their faces covered and not speaking Pushto were among the terrorists that started the beheadings in the valley. In the last encounter around Mir Ali in North Waziristan, there were 50 foreigners among the 200 militants killed by Pakistani troops. Most of them were identified as Uzbeks, Tajiks and Arabs. Russia has lately adopted an aggressive anti-US stance, and if it is fishing in the troubled waters of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, the battle lines will have to redrawn. It will be Kremlin’s payback for what Washington did when the Soviet army was in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Unfortunately, this will have a negative effect on the politics of Pakistan, bringing the crisis of Pakistan’s security to the fore at a time when the country is moving towards elections.

Speakup on February 21, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Amen.

baldilocks on February 21, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Russia has lately adopted an aggressive anti-US stance, and if it is fishing in the troubled waters of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

will not be our fault if some Russians get whacked by a missile carrying drone

runner on February 21, 2009 at 1:34 PM

We should be concentrating on Turkmenistan and leaning hard on Turkey to use their influence there to get them into our/NATO orbit. Turkmenistan would open a a route through the Black Sea, train through Georgia/Azerbaijan, and then sea again to Turkmenistan then land route into N Afghanistan.

This route would establish the future oil pipeline that is supposed to open the Stans into the EU. This route would supplant the Paki route by opening a heavy cargo route. This route would be very secure compared to Pakiland.

This route would give aid and added value to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan the three keys to a EU-Stans oil route. The development of rail and road along this route would cement the partnership. Russia/Putty would split a head vein over this because it would not only secure the NATO supply lines to Afghanistan (and beyond), but it would by establishment create a secure route to run that oil pipeline. Once built that pipeline will bring all that Stan gas/oil from Turkeministan and Kazikhistan into NATO/EU and around Russia’s domination.

If the west wishes to play in the Stans, secure supply lines are critical. Pakistan/Afghanistan will take generations of re-education to make secure for a pipeline. Georgia is already a staunch ally, Azerbaijan is leaning hard and Turkmenistan is leaning hard. Turkey has strong influence in both of these republics and should be tapped to help lock their northern security belt and at the sametime re-solidify US good grace.

Everyone wins and has group and personal benefit motives except Russia who is left to fight with China over the brown end of the stick literally.

C-Low on February 21, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Wonderful analysis, Ed. US lost one route – blame Obama. US acquired two routes – blame Obama.

P.S. Tajikistan has a stable democracy. Which probably is why it’s run by the same person for 17 years. Aren’t you just a bit ashamed to be so clueless and so serious at the same time?

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Ever hear of the long tail of logistics?

1) The airbase was an important feeder base (the ONLY US air base in Central Asia) — larger long haul aircraft terminate at Manas and offload to smaller flights so as not to clog the main Afghani airbases. Plus when bad weather blocks other direct long haul flights from landing, they can be diverted to Manas, only an hour away. But once we evac Manas, where will our supply flights divert to if destination is blocked by weather? Aircraft will have to carry at least another hour of fuel in case of an emergency, potentially reducing their cargo payload depending on aircraft and departure point.

2)Furthermore, we already sank beaucoup $$ in developing Manas. Now we have to start over with another place, which will cost us just as much and then some. Simply put, we’ll have a new base for the price of 3 Manas. Right smack dab in the middle of the surge. That’s just for the air support.

3) As for trucking 50 to 200 containers. Look at the map, see any good roads into Afghanistan from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan? How long will it take to improve the routes to handle that traffic?

4) Speaking of Afghani borders, what’s our biggest problem with Pakistan? By operating out of the two new countries, AQ fighters will gravitate to the Northern chokepoints, as well as launching hit & run attacks on the convoy staging areas.

5) Non military means just that — Foodstuff, Fuel, PX merchandise, etc. Surging 17K soldiers means surging ammo, weapons, tactical vehicles and other combat equipment. At this point, they won’t be coming via those two countries

And that’s just for starters… All the same, I have nothing against pulling those two closer to our “sphere of influence”.

Aren’t you just a bit ashamed to be so clueless and so un-serious at the same time?

AH_C on February 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

ajacksonian on February 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Using Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan is certainly feasible, however, I don’t think the Hope-n-change admin wants to show Georgia any ‘love’. Something to do with latent BDS hostility to New Europe, when getting love from Old Europe & Russia is more to be desired. Getting punked by Putin is like some badge of honor. Sad but true.

AH_C on February 21, 2009 at 2:26 PM

w was Hoover, Obama FDR, WWIII coming soon.

History repeats itself again.

getalife on February 21, 2009 at 2:40 PM

It’s a pity it’s such a pain to visit some places in the world. I’d love to go to a couple of the “stans” one of these days.

Asher on February 21, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Very often true but not always. Gettysburg hinged on tactics. Stonewall Jackson was a tactical genius as evidenced at Chancellorsville (and before) yet it cost him his life. Therefore, Jackson was not at Gettysburg hence Lee and Pickett relied on logistics instead. In haste to precede Meade’s arrival. The tactics were unsuitable thereby changing the course of American history.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 2:58 PM

The Obama administration should not relax on this issue. It would do well to keep close in mind this fact: Proximity. Russia is closer, that still matters in this “modern” era.

Montana on February 21, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Stonewall Jackson was a tactical genius as evidenced at Chancellorsville (and before) yet it cost him his life.

And it was negated by his inexplicable sluggishness and negligence during the Seven Days battle.

He was aggressive–yes. That served the CSA well up until the USA found equally aggressive commanders (Sherman, Sheridan, Grant)

Stonewall’s ability was most evident when he was up against the cautious.

Montana on February 21, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Oh, and Stonewall’s genius did not cost him his life. Overly anxious Confederate pickets did.

Montana on February 21, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Eh. Kyrgystan got their modern airport courtesy of the Yankees, now it’s Tajikistan’s turn.

We already built one for that bastard in Uzbekistan a few years ago.

Yep. Your tax dollars are building large, modern airports for the “Stans.” I’m still not sure Afghanistan is worth it at this point.

funky chicken on February 21, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Montana on February 21, 2009 at 3:02 PM

I’m well aware of the pickets (friendly fire) however central to tactics is reconnaissance and it was returning from reconnaissance where Jackson met his fate. A time when Field General meant taking personal risks of going where the danger is instead of sending scouts.

Union generals improved mostly by meat grinder attrition. They could afford to lose more generals such that as Hooker and McClellan and others out of their league were removed or eliminated there was only room for improvement. See: Petersburg Campaign and Cold Harbor. Not to mention First and Second Bull Run.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 3:27 PM

if we totally withdrew from afghanistan, what would be the consequences? i don’t know so i’m asking for info purposes.

kelley in virginia on February 21, 2009 at 3:31 PM

I’m surprised that BHO and the dems haven’t claimed the loss of Manas AFB in Kyrgyzstan as “economic stimulus”. After all, the demolition of the all the base structures we built is a “shovel ready” project that will create or save jobs…

Oh wait, I’ll bet we will just hand over the base with all the new construction to our comrades of Kyrgyzstan. Never mind……

And isn’t it called the ” Kyrgyz Republic” and not the old USSR name Kyrgyzstan?

JeffVader on February 21, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Very often true but not always. Gettysburg hinged on tactics. Stonewall Jackson was a tactical genius as evidenced at Chancellorsville (and before) yet it cost him his life. Therefore, Jackson was not at Gettysburg hence Lee and Pickett relied on logistics instead. In haste to precede Meade’s arrival. The tactics were unsuitable thereby changing the course of American history.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Uh, the reason the North won Gettysburg was ALL Logistics… on their side.

They constantly, as at Gettysburg, had larger better equiped armies. They also had interior lines of supply, on a highway going straight back to Washington, allowing both troops to reinforce (which was their only tactic, throw troops piecemeal onto the high ground, and hope they hold…), and to resupply their large amounts of artilery.

Looking at it one way, Gettysburg is a PRIME example of Logistics winning over tactics…

But the main point is that Tactics win battles, Logistics wins wars.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 4:16 PM

if we totally withdrew from afghanistan, what would be the consequences? i don’t know so i’m asking for info purposes.

kelley in virginia on February 21, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Depends on how we withdraw IMO.

Just leave? Afgan government falls to the Islamists, and de facto new state encompassing most of Afganistan, and parts of Pakistan, emerges as a hard line Islamic state.

Now… Russians do NOT want that. They have a concept of “Near Abroad” where they want secure borders, and no NATO types on their border… kinda like we have the Monroe doctrine… They want a stable “Near Abroad”… (which was what Georgia was about last year, we had Spec Ops troops working in Georgia… it would be like Russian sending Spetznatz to Mexico…) soooo…

I think we have the option of essentialy handing it over to the Russians… let them spend their soldiers there… because they have direct overland supply routes… and a militant Islamic State would be a direct threat to THEM.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Yet my point is that there are decisive battles and Gettysburg was one where the outcome was decided by tactics because the logistics (Meade’s arrival) were delayed and by the tactics Pickett’s Charge wasted the CSA’s advantage. Had a flanking maneuver been substituted and Gettysburg taken then Meade would encounter an entrenched force above Washington (north of Meade) with DC falling behind enemy lines.

The reason I later referenced Cold Harbor was that it was Grant’s greatest blunder. He had more to kill yet the fact that his tactics were all wrong (no reconnaissance) killed about 12 or 13 thousand Union unnecessarily. He charged directly into fortified troops. Meade was furious with Grant’s negligence of tactics. So was Grant with himself in various retrospects and writings.

Jimmy Dolittle’s Tokyo Raid is another example of tactics over logistics. Logistically it was haywire yet tactically it was of enormous moment when the Japanese populace quickly realized we would answer them. The Germans were big on logistics (autobahns etc.) until our tactics against Ploesti made the Battle of the Bulge inevitable.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 4:41 PM

AH_C on February 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Do you receive enough medications? Do you understand basic English? Which words in the following are not clear?

I do think the US should have tried to keep the base.

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 5:13 PM

A non-Russian land/sea route for heavy nonlethal supplies would be valuable even if it is limited. I don’t think getting permission to ship through Georgia or Azerbaijan will be that hard. Caspian transport can be arranged. Getting something with Turkmenistan or the Kazakstan Uzbekistan route would be more difficult but it tough to have a feel for that Stateside.

It would all be subject to Russian interdiction if they are willing to risk a dust up, but it at least will give a route for lethal supplies that Russia won’t allow. If Russia continues to allow nonlethal aid, that one road route through Turkmenistan could be very helpful for the fraction of supply that is “lethal”.

The real question may be, should we give up missle defense of Europe and NATO expansion to Georgia and Urkraine in exchange for a chance to fight an expanded war in Afghanistan. I wouldn’t, but Obama may.

KW64 on February 21, 2009 at 5:34 PM

As the past couple of weeks have shown, he won’t be bluffing.

past couple of weeks?? you mean years…since the polonium incident…don’t mess with uncle Vlad…

right4life on February 21, 2009 at 5:57 PM

Can’t we just get out of all the godforsaken places? Really except for finishing in Afgahanistan why don’t we just protect outselves here(more nukes and stuff) and say to heck with all these people.. it’s not like they want us there!

CCRWM on February 21, 2009 at 6:30 PM

CCRWM on February 21, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Someday you may get your wish through unmanned aircraft, land craft and space systems. Provided Dianne Feinstein and other nitwits don’t breach or sell our secrets. The best defense remains a good offense so that the need to take the fight to the enemy will remain unchanged while how we deliver that fight to them changes every day.

A disadvantage to our fighting from afar is it becomes easier for an enemy to point to Guernica and use propaganda to embolden and justify their cause against us. Untrue, of course, but consider how easily our own nation was sold on propaganda of Bambi’s hope’n'change.

viking01 on February 21, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

How right you are…before it’s all done we’ll be flying C-17′s out of DG…sad…

jerrytbg on February 21, 2009 at 7:46 PM

The Chosen One got tested big time on this one…and true to form, voted ‘present’.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 21, 2009 at 10:12 PM

Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

Romeo13 on February 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Actually, I would beg to differ. Wars are ultimately decided by TACTICS and STRATEGY, NOT by Logistics.

True, you may say, Logistics must be the cornerstone of every great strategy and tactic. And you would be correct. However, to claim it alone is responsible for victory, or that it can even TRIUMPH over superior tactics and strategy is- to put it mildly- a stretch.

In 1805, Austria and Russia had obtained a decisive logistic triumph over Napoleonic France by taking advantage of Napoleon’s desire to occupy Vienna and end the war to cut him off from what little supply lines he still had and to trap him in a particularly desolate part of Bohemia, where they planned to destroy him once and for all.

What followed- the Battle of Austerlitz- has gone down in history as a textbook example of a smaller force outmanuevering and utterly destroying a vastly larger force, and as Napoleon’s greatest battlefield triumph.

All in SPITE of the logistics, not BECAUSE of them.

True, you may attempt to point out Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign as a counterbalance, and not without justification. However, the fatal flaw in Napoleon’s plan was probably not its logistics (though that was not a pleasant or high point of Napoleon’s army during that campaign), but his failure to follow his own chief rule: To attack and destroy the Russian military in the field at Borodino. Had he been able to do that, organized resistance would certainly have collapsed and the winter of 1812-13 would have certainly been trying, but probably not fatal. By his failure to do so, he gave the Russians enough time to regroup and push back.

The fact is that good strategies and tactics can result in victory even with poor logistics, but not the other way around, and it does grave harm to overemphasize it.

Turtler on February 21, 2009 at 10:52 PM

Back again to the tactics and logistics thingie…

One can be a Brigade Commander, and have a number of OPLAN’s on how to engage an enemy in a set field, or several, and be able to plan for air defense, or artillery support, and for helo insertion of assets well behind the FEBA deep in bad guy country.

As Brigade Commander, one can be well aware of adjacent units, and have a general feel for how their respective commanders will deal with any given situation over a given period of time and plan accordingly.

One can have a pretty good idea of the size, activity, location, strength, mobility and overall morale of the enemy, and even have a pretty goods idea of what each enemy commander is capable of or how good they are…if your S-2 is any good, and your superior G-2 has been paying attention.

You’ve looked at the maps, know the terrain…know where the bad guys are.

This is tactics.

This is the sort of thing war-gamed at every level from West Point and ROTC cadets right up to real bona fide Brigade Commanders at local training areas, or at professionalization schools or in major exercises. Again, this is tactics.

Now, Colonel Brigade Commander…you got your tactics down, now comes the real work.

When Pvt. Snuffy reaches into his ammo pouch and locks and loads…how many rounds can he put down range till his ammo runs out, and at what time hack in the battle plan will his ammo run out? Multiply this by 40 Pvt. Snuffy’s in a platoon, four platoons, less heavy weapons platoon, in a infantry company, times four companies per battalion, times four battalions in a Brigade.

Then, address supporting fires, if you have attached artillery, this can be important. If you are being supported by Div Arty…this can get confusing right off the bat…

How many rounds per minute or hour can be placed down range over a given period of time as preparatory fires and supporting fires? How many guns are necessary, how many rounds and bags are needed for each firing battery? How do they get there?

As for the helo insertion…since aviation assets are generally part of an aviation brigade, attached at the division level, what provisions are made for refueling, and where are the refueling points located? Your responsibility as a brigade commander. What security is attached to the refueling points? How many personnel, provisions and ammunition are/is required? How do they get there? How many tracks or trucks are needed to support their acquisition and support of the refueling points?

Then, there is a matter of field maintenance…how many tracks, trucks and recovery vehicles are needed? Where are they to be located? How do they get there? How are they to be provisioned?

Once the “battle” gets underway, how many days of sustained fire and movement can be accomplished before Murphy steps in, or you fire your S-3/S-4? What are the plans for re-load, reprovisioning, rest and recovery and return to battle?

All these are just a small part of “logistics.”

But, unless all logistics and logistical problems are hammered out well in advance of the first Pvt. Snuffy moving to contact…all the tactics in the world aren’t gonna be of much use. No beans, no bullets, well…as a Brigade Commander, one’s career is suddenly looking mighty finite.

Yes, I am being flip in a way…but the reality holds…tactics are important, vital. Being able, ready and fully prepared to execute those tactics…well, that’s what logistics is all about.

Now, promote yourself from Colonel to Major General…now you have a division, independent or as part of a corps…and all this stuff gets multiplied, greatly, and becomes even more critical, since basically, when the guns go off. you’re on your own…no time to find out that even though you really really want to, there is no way in hell that you can get a service battalion over a 7,000 foot mountain range, nor get them the fuel to do so, and your tracks are taking hits, and Murphy is running around doing his thing…

Move up a grade, get your own corps…multiply all of the above by a factor of five…overabundance and redundancy has to be pre-planned.

Can’t fight a war on plans…any tactical plan is pretty much obsolete once you cross the FEBA. But, good logistics and logistics planning, well, that pretty much can last the entire engagement, conflict, war…if good attention is paid beforehand.

coldwarrior on February 21, 2009 at 11:25 PM

All I have to say is that, on the road to Dushanbe, watch out for the Tajik Highway Patrol. If you see a black-and-white GAZ-24 in your rear view, pull over immediately.

unclesmrgol on February 21, 2009 at 11:32 PM

The Chosen One got tested big time on this one…and true to form, voted ‘present’.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 21, 2009 at 10:12 PM

Famous last words: “I won.”

bluelightbrigade on February 22, 2009 at 9:28 AM

This must be what Obama meant by diplomacy. I don’t really care about this. Waste of money. It would have been better to have just toppled the Afghan gov and replace it with nothing. That is, if you were interested in giving them real freedom.

Libertarian Joseph on February 22, 2009 at 9:30 AM

AH_C on February 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Do you receive enough medications? Do you understand basic English? Which words in the following are not clear?

I do think the US should have tried to keep the base.

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Settle down Beavis…

On my post I was responding to this:

Wonderful analysis, Ed. US lost one route – blame Obama. US acquired two routes – blame Obama.

P.S. Tajikistan has a stable democracy. Which probably is why it’s run by the same person for 17 years. Aren’t you just a bit ashamed to be so clueless and so serious at the same time?

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Nowhere, in the above, do I see this quote of yours: “I do think the US should have tried to keep the base.” So who’s unclear on basic English here?

Oh wait… OK. Now I see where that quote came from:

Ed Morrissey on February 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Russia is by far more free and democratic in every respect from freedom of press to how elections are conducted. And Russia isn’t democratic at all.

It’s one thing to stand up to Russian pointless attempts to pick a fight. It’s quite another to say: the hell with authoritarian Russia, let me embrace you, my democratic Tajik friend.

The biggest Tajik achievement is that they aren’t Iran. Russia has contributed a lot to prevent them from becoming Iran. Hence Russian insistence on dispatching their border patrol at times where the border with Afghanistan was practically transparent.

I do think the US should have tried to keep the base. But your analysis is simplistic because I suspect you don’t know facts.

radiofreevillage on February 21, 2009 at 12:16 PM

And now I also see that the rest of that “story” goes on to accuse Ed of being simplistic due to ignorance. That’s not the pot calling the kettle black. That’s just plain old projection.

Ignorance is believing that “Russia is by far more free and democratic in every respect from freedom of press to how elections are conducted“. I’m sure there are plenty of Russian journalists that would beg to differ. Even more so when 3 killers were just acquitted of assassinating a famous reporter just this past week in Russia.

Seriously clueless is believing that the US gave up one route for two routes as not worthy of “blaming Obama”. What is plain to me is you’re projecting your BDS unto Cap’n Ed as him having a case of ODS.

Well, here’s a clue: we gained two land routes — with the attendant restrictions and limited capabilities that I outlined — while losing that one valuable and fully operational air route.

Cornhoolio, do us a favor and get back on your meds and while you’re at it, take your undie from off your head .

AH_C on February 22, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Ya’ll might just go to strategypage or other reputable source to find that Russia has decided a US base in K’stan is not such a bad idea after all. First it was, “Okay, but just non military stuff.” Now, “Well, stuff that goes bang is good, too.”

And we ship by train from Baltic to U & T’Stan so there are other routes in existence. The nuisance at Khyber Pass is Pakis getting greedy. Not working so good for them anymore.

Geeze, folks, our military has more global sense than they did during Willytime. Alternatives are needed to win. And we are not losing.

Bambi FBHN must have a strong military or risk external takeover as he weakens the country. He must have a strong domestic military too for obvious reasons besides our Muzzy & Mex population. He inherited the first from Bush 43 and the foundation for the second from Willy.

Now, children, go play. You are annoying adults. Check it on the web.

Flying Gadsden

Caststeel on February 22, 2009 at 9:05 PM

What we need is a transport that can fly high enough to nullify airspace considerations and land on a dime. Can anyone say rotary rocket.

darktood on February 23, 2009 at 2:35 PM