Christian Science Monitor on the Northern supply route into Afghanistan
Today, roughly 40 percent of the supplies for US troops in Afghanistan move through the NDN, including food, water, and building materials. It is against the terms of the NDN for the Pentagon to use the route for anything that explodes – such as, say, ammunition – as well as other sensitive items including weapons and cryptological equipment.
It’s also a highly impractical route for shipping back large military trucks and other vehicles, which officials prefer to ship through Pakistan.
Flying a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle – the US military’s heaviest – out of Afghanistan, for example, uses “ungodly amounts of fuel,” the official adds, and only two of them can fit on a C-17 transport plane at any given time.
And shipping it through the NDN would mean it must travel through five countries and incur sizable customs fees.
Indeed, the port at Karachi “is our preferred method of shipping everything out of Afghanistan,” says the senior defense official, since it tends to be the most cost-effective.
However, travel through the region remains precarious, since it is frequented by insurgents who wouldn’t mind targeting US military supplies and the people who transport them.
Late last year the Pentagon was forced to stop shipments through one supply route to Pakistan – through the Torkham Gate in Afghanistan – because the US military was worried about threats to its contracted drivers.
“Protesters were stopping vehicles,” the senior official says, “And we don’t know what’s going to happen then. It’s a heck of a risk to take.”
For that reason, the percentage of US military trucks and supplies being shipped back to the US through Pakistan dropped from 56 percent in November to 44 percent in the past month, according to Pentagon figures.
As the US military prepares to draw down in Afghanistan, the NDN – through which some five percent of US military materials are currently being moved out of the country – likely will continue to grow in importance, particularly if President Obama pursues a “zero option” and pulls all US troops from the war by the end of the year.
“That’s why we want to keep the NDN open,” the senior defense official says. “We can surge more material up and out through the network if we need to do that.”
-bth: original article worth reading in full. One can assume given this supply issue and Afghanistan and India's endorsement of Russia's stealth invasion of Ukraine, that the Paki/US relations are about to improve dramatically.