We're always looking to shine a light on emerging stories in logistics, and that includes new developments in the military. We recently attended the National Defense Industrial Association's 28th Annual National Logistics Conference and Exhibition in Miami and found attendees there were very low-key about something that is pretty amazing—that is, the ability of the U.S. military's logistics organization to continue supporting personnel in Afghanistan even though its routing options for delivering supplies have been drastically reduced.
Excluding Iran, which for obvious reasons is not an option, there are only three ways into Afghanistan on the ground. Two are overland routes through Pakistan, via the Port of Karachi, and the third is from the north at the Hairatan Gate, dropping into Afghanistan from central Asia.
In November, Pakistan closed its two border crossings. Yet the U.S. military, together with its commercial partners, hasn't missed a beat. We are still supporting close to 100,000 troops on the ground and probably about the same number of contractors. In our opinion, that's a spectacular achievement that offers lessons in agility, resilience, and contingency planning for private sector logistics and supply chain managers.
You can learn more about the military's logistics accomplishments in Afghanistan in "Why Hairatan Gate matters," by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes, 101st Sustainment Brigade, and in our 2010 article "Northern Distribution Network to shore up Afghan supply chain."
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