Call it the ultimate in military logistics. As land routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan are cut, sabotaged or otherwise interrupted, the U.S. military has developed alternative railroad routes that make the Orient Express look like a branch line.
They are called — rather prosaically — the Northern Distribution Network, or NDN. The main route begins at the port of Riga in Latvia, from where freight trains roll across Russia, and continues along the edge of the Caspian Sea. It crosses the deserts of Kazakhstan and into Uzbekistan. About 10 days after beginning their odyssey, the containers cross into Afghanistan, carrying everything from computers and socks to toilet paper and bottled water.
Source: To Afghanistan, on the slow train, Tim Lister, CNN, 29 November 2011
Posts Tagged ‘NATO’
NATO TV visits Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of the northern province of Balkh, seven months after the first round of transition. Since July, Afghan forces have been fully in charge of Mazar’s security, with ISAF forces only operating in a supporting role. We talk to local people and the police chief for an update on the security situation.
Includes brief TEM2 action at 0:12.
“NATO in Afghanistan – The Train Through Hairatan” is a NATO video showing freight trains running on the Hairatan to Mazar-i-Sharif railway line.
NATO opens new communication lines to Afghanistan
Following the conclusion of arrangements for the transit of ISAF non-lethal cargo by rail with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia, on 14 May and arrived in Afghanistan on 9 June 2010.
Despite being delayed for several days en route, the trial has been heralded as a success in opening up new lines of communication to Afghanistan. Plans are already underway for follow-on shipments in the months ahead, subject to the demands of ISAF Troop Contributing Nations.
The train transited through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before entering Afghanistan at the border-crossing point at Hairaton. The shipment consisted of 27 twenty-foot ISO containers of construction materials, food supplies and a loading ramp from Belgium.
Several agencies were involved in arranging the shipment including the Allied Movement Coordination Centre at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium; the Movement Coordination Centre Europe at Eindhoven, the Netherlands; the Danish Handling Agent, DSV, in Latvia; and the various military and rail authorities of the nations involved. Latvia acted as the Lead Nation in coordinating the various elements.
Use of the rail route costs approximately 10 per cent of the equivalent for movement by air and is more direct than using the southern surface transport route through Pakistan.
Source: NATO press release, 2010-06-09
AFGHANISTAN: WASHINGTON EXPLORING CHINESE RE-SUPPLY ROUTE
Deirdre Tynan 2/02/10
On land, the NDN also appears to be experiencing some problems. Although the US Department of Defense insists the NDN is running at top capacity, Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s mischievous envoy to NATO, told the Russian news paper Izvestia on January 26 that “there are some technical problems associated with an overload on one of the railway routes.”
Experts caution that additional land routes, whether routed through China or eastern Russia, could ultimately face the same problem — a bottleneck in Uzbekistan. “The problem isn’t the route to Central Asia, it is getting across Uzbekistan [to Afghanistan]. So you can have 10 ways to get to Termez, but what’s the difference?” a well-placed source told EurasiaNet.
Until major upgrades are completed at the Termez-Hairaton border crossing, and action taken to contain corruption and red tape, Uzbekistan is likely to continue to act as a choke point for US and NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan, the source added.
Source: Eurasianet , 2010-02-20
From Russian Transport Daily Report, 1 February 2010:
NATO Cargo Transit through Russia May Start within Days
Railway transit of non-lethal NATO freight through Russia and Central Asia to NATO forces in Afghanistan may start within days. This would seriously supplement transportation through the main transit route, which passes through Pakistan. Pakistan will most likely remain the main transit route for the foreseeable future. Cargo to be transported through Russia and Kazakhstan will not include weapons or ammunition. A transit deal with Russia signed in 2008 needed approval from Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries to come into force.
Source: Interfax News Agency
Among the agreements announced by Presidents Obama and Medvedev on 6 July is one for the transit through Russia of “lethal” military supplies bound for the armed forces in Afghanistan.
Could this be a breakthough in rail transport? “Non lethal” military freight has reportedly been sent by train via Russia and Uzbekistan to Hayratan this year. Germany already has an agreement to ship lethal materials by rail through Russia – though Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were less keen on allowing transit, and it is unclear if any has actually been transported.
JOINT STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BARACK OBAMA AND PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION D. A. MEDVEDEV CONCERNING AFGHANISTAN
…we intend to make active use of the transit route through the territory of the Russian Federation for deliveries of property and equipment for the needs of the international forces operating in Afghanistan
We express our willingness to explore issues related to Russian-U.S. interaction and cooperation in restoring the transportation, energy, and industrial infrastructure of Afghanistan.
Source: Whitehouse.gov press release 2009-07-06
PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV: The subject of U.S.-Russian cooperation in Afghanistan is extremely important. It is for this reason we paid so much attention to the discussion of this problem, and we have just signed an agreement that concerns transit. It’s an important subject and we will of course continue cooperation with our American counterparts.
As concerns the current situation, it is — really is not simple. I am not trying to say that it is being worsens, but in many aspects the progress is not available or is insignificant. But we value the efforts that are being made by the United States together with the other countries in order to prevent the terrorist threat that was emanating and still coming from the Afghan soil.
We are prepared in this sense to a full-scale cooperation with our U.S. and other partners, including in transit areas. We are prepared to help in the various aspects. I don’t know to what extent — how quickly the situation will improve. It depends to a large extent to the development of the political system in Afghanistan, to what extent the Afghan government will achieve successes in the economy — and it’s not a simple task.
And we’re going to have to think regionally in terms of how we approach these problems. Obviously there are countries along the border of Afghanistan and Central Asia that are of deep strategic importance, and it’s very important that we also include them in these conversations about how we can move forward.
But I just want to thank again the Russian government for the agreement for military transit. That will save U.S. troops both time and money. And it’s I think a gesture that indicates the degree to which, in the future, Russian-U.S. cooperation can be extraordinarily important in solving a whole host of these very important international issues.
Source: Whitehouse.gov press conference transcript 2009-07-06