Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 17, 2009

More Aviation Fuel For Afghanistan

On February 21 I wrote about the U.S. Defense Energy Support Center solicitation for fuel in Afghanistan. That center is the sole supplier of fuel for all U.S. forces. The numbers in that solicitation were:

  • 67,320,000 U.S. Gallons - Turbine Fuel, Aviation
  • 12,240,000 U.S. Gallons - Fuel Oil, Diesel
  •   1,440,000 U.S. Gallons - Gasoline, Automotive, Unleaded

The total was 80 million gallons or 220,000 gallons per day. I pointed out that this number fitted to a Stratfor estimate from November 2008 as the yearly demand for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The solicitation has now been modified and the required numbers changed:

  • 100,776,000 U.S. Gallons - Turbine Fuel, Aviation
  •   11,883,000 U.S. Gallons - Fuel Oil, Diesel
  •    1,438,000 U.S. Gallons - Gasoline, Automotive, Unleaded

Diesel numbers have been lowered a bit and gasoline number stay about constant so no additional requirements for operating ground troops is assumed. But the anticipated need for aviation fuel has now increased by 50%.

I can think of two possible changes that require these higher numbers:

  1. The closing of the U.S. airbase Manas in Kyrgyzstan will require longer air transport into Afghanistan from elsewhere (Bahrain?) and thus require more fuel.
  2. The security situation on inner Afghan roads is now so bad that a decision has been made to now distribute most of the stuff needed by the troops in forward bases by air.

Transport flights from Bahrain to Bagram and back can likely carry enough fuel for both flight legs and would not need refueling Afghanistan. While they would have to fly 'heavy', this could well be cheaper than to fuel up in Afghanistan with fuel trucked in from as far away as Baku.

And here is another recent pre-solicitation for a serious upgrade of an airport at a new U.S. base at Tarin Kowt, a small city in south Afghanistan about 100 miles north of Kandahar. The Dutch garrison there happily used the old Russian dirt-strip runway there as visible in this video. As U.S. troops come in a $100,000,000 project gets started to accommodate their logistic needs:

The airfield pavements shall have paved shoulders, pavement marking, and lighting, markings, and tie-downs as required; as well as supporting facilities including but not limited to, anti-terrorism measures, site improvements, drainage, water, sewer, electric service, paving, walks, curbs and gutters.

Tidy enough to fly in X-gamers and volleyball players to keep the troops entertained.

In other logistic news: Early this month I remarked:

The last news I find of attacks on the route through north Pakistan is from February 7 and the last bad logistic news from the route through Quetta is from February 8 when a truck driver was shot. My assumption is that early in February someone spent real money to buy off the locals in Pakistan who facilitate the earlier attacks - Anbar tactics. But that will not hold for long. You can rent the Pashtuns, but you can not buy them. As soon as someone is willing to pay better, they will again be your enemies.

On Sunday a transport hub in Peshawar was attacked:

In a fresh attack on Nato supplies here on Sunday, suspected militants torched 13 military vehicles and over a dozen containers in a parking lot in Hazarkhwani after torturing three security guards.

A police official said that a group of around 60 militants attacked the Pak-Afghan Container Terminal on the Ring Road near Hazarkhwani, which transships logistics to Nato forces fighting against Taliban in Afghanistan, and set on fire containers and vehicles by firing rockets and hurling petrol bombs at the facility around 3:00am.

and Monday another hit:

In the latest assault, militants barged into a supply depot on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar at around 1:00 am on Monday, overpowered guards and set fire to vehicles, police said.

‘About 50 gunmen attacked us ... They first disarmed us and then began setting fire to bulldozers and humvees,’ one of he depot’s guards, Raza Khan, told Reuters.

This seems to be a group dedicated to attacks on U.S. and NATO logistics. According to the first report Pakistani police also found and defused two big roadside bombs with cell-phone triggers for convoy attacks. The war is moving along the logistic lines into Pakistan. One wonders how long it will take until such logistic attacks happen in Karachi harbor where the U.S./Nato materials land.

Over the weekend several deadly  convoy attacks also happened in Afghanistan. Earlier reports pointed to the frequent use of road culverts for hiding improvised bombs. The military is asking for special technology to defeat such bombs hidden in culverts under Afghan roads.

earlier coverage of Afghanistan logistics at MoA:
An Update On Afghanistan Logistics, March 6, 2009
Iran Should Offer Fuel To DESC, Feb 21, 2009
The New Route Plus Iranian Jet Fuel Supply To Afghanistan, Feb 20, 2009
The Pink Route To Afghanistan, Feb 3, 2009
The Costly New Supply Route To Afghanistan, Jan 26, 2009
New Supply Routes To Afghanistan, Nov 19, 2008
Fuel for War in Afghanistan Aug 20, 2008
The Road War in Afghanistan Aug 16, 2008
Fuel Tanker Attacks in Afghanistan Mar 24, 2008

Posted by b on March 17, 2009 at 15:39 UTC | Permalink


Hey, the guy in this picture seems to look happy about this new NATO runway in Northern Afghanistan.

Posted by: Rick | Mar 18 2009 2:55 utc | 1

Lunacy; U.S. Weighs Taliban Strike Into Pakistan

President Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.
But some American officials say the missile strikes in the tribal areas have forced some leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flee south toward Quetta, making them more vulnerable. In separate reports, groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.

Many of Mr. Obama’s advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas. They also are recommending preserving the option to conduct cross-border ground actions, using C.I.A. and Special Operations commandos, as was done in September. Mr. Bush’s orders also named as targets a wide variety of insurgents seeking to topple Pakistan’s government.

Quetta has about a million inhabitants. Strike there and it explodes. It is also in the path of the supply line to Kandahar.

Posted by: b | Mar 18 2009 5:37 utc | 2


I don't understand this either. The US is only in Pakistan under the Pakistani government's permission, not the UN. This will bring down the Pakistani government. Is that the intention? 173 million people?

Posted by: biklett | Mar 18 2009 7:50 utc | 3

@biklett - Is that the intention?

Currently the U.S. is doing everything to keep Zardari in the job, though some seem to warm up to Sharif. I have no real idea of intentions. A lot of is haplessness I believe because nobody really knows what to with the tar baby Afghanistan.

Some numbers:


The United States plans to ship about 100 containers per day to Afghanistan via the so-called Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a transit corridor passing though Russia and Central Asia, the head of US Transportation Command has announced.

Speaking to a US Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in Washington March 17, Gen. Duncan McNabb said 738 containers transported by rail through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan earlier this month had reached Afghanistan and 90 containers had been delivered to Kabul.

According to McNabb, 140 containers currently pass through the Khyber Pass connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan daily. "This year, establishing the Northern Distribution Network, alternative routes to Afghanistan through the Caucasus and Central Asia, has become a high priority," he said adding that "significant progress" had been made in establishing the new transport corridors.

Increasing volatility in Pakistan has forced the US military to reconsider the long-term viability of the Khyber Pass supply route. Supply trucks have been attacked and the route temporarily closed on two occasions this year.

Posted by: b | Mar 19 2009 13:17 utc | 4

Some additional logistic numbers in a self serving piece from a General: General Urges Confidence in Ability to Supply Troops in Afghanistan

Insurgent attacks on major supply roads into Afghanistan have disrupted U.S. delivery schedules, said Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who directs the U.S. Transport Command. But he told lawmakers that he has personally assured the head of Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, "We will be there. We'll figure out and make sure you never have to worry about this."
The most successful option has been air delivery. Battle gear -- including arms, ammunition, sensitive equipment, bomb-resistant vehicles and armored personnel carriers -- has been brought into Afghanistan by air, thanks to a Pentagon-funded expansion of air bases at Bagram, Kandahar and Bastian.

In recent years, the capacity of the bases has been increased by up to 400 percent, and the growth continues. At Bagram air base, for example, the Army Corps of Engineers is managing about $650 million in construction, according to Col. Thomas O'Donovan, commander of the Afghanistan Engineer District.
These trucks also carry food, water, clothing and other personal supplies, typically bringing them from Pakistani ports and into Afghanistan at one of five border crossings. About 130 to 140 shipments reach Afghanistan each day along that route, McNabb said, and because only 78 containers a day are currently needed to keep up with demand, "we're getting more in than we need."
One result of all the construction is that the Corps of Engineers has become the largest employer of Afghans after the national government. Corps contractors, O'Donovan told reporters Friday, will spend about $4 billion in Afghanistan this year and employ between 45 percent and 60 percent of the overall construction industry in that country

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2009 6:28 utc | 5

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