An interesting 17 February 2009 article from Der Spiegel about the problems of supplying military forces in Afghanistan. This problem is nothing new of course – various armies over the centuries have faced it before.
Allies Struggle to Find Safer Supply Routes
By Dieter Bednarz, Rüdiger Falksohn and Alexander Szandar
The Taliban has staged repeated attacks on Afghanistan’s perilous Khyber Pass against trucks loaded with NATO supplies. The international security forces, including Germany’s Bundeswehr, are scrambling to find safer routes – and might even consider one through Iran.
- Three-quarters of all the military equipment and goods for Afghanistan goes through Karachi.
- Germany is the only NATO country with permission to transport war materiel through Russia by rail. But other countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, have refused permits so no trains have actually run.
The Bundeswehr has also looked into the feasibility of building additional stretches of track in Afghanistan. There are already 20-year-old plans from the days of the Soviet occupation. The railroad could connect the border town of Hairatan with Mazar-e-Sharif, 67 kilometers away. Thanks to a bridge built in 1982 across the Amu Darya River, which serves as the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Hairatan has a direct connection to the rail network in Termes.
The financing is still up in the air, though. But given that the project would both make it easier to bring supplies to NATO troops and promote the region’s economy, military officials hope to receive funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and international organizations. For example, the Asian Development Bank plans to prepare a feasibility study with the support of the Uzbek government.
In December, a privately owned Uzbek railroad company, which already operates in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, contacted the German Embassy in Kabul. According to a confidential report the embassy sent to the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, the Uzbek company “would like to work with German companies” to implement projects sponsored by the development bank.
Source: Der Spiegel