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US official outlines Afghan drawdown challenges

18th July 2012 - 13:06 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The military withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a much greater challenge than the Iraq drawdown, according to a key US official.

Frank Kendall, the US undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics, was quoted in a DoD statement that logistics is a much bigger part of his job than he thought it would be. 

‘The aphorism that amateurs worry about tactics and professionals worry about logistics is very true,’ Kendall was quoted as saying in the 17 July release. ‘We have a huge logistics challenge getting out of Afghanistan.’ 

That challenge, he said, is different than the one involved in the withdrawal from Iraq. Kendall oversaw the Iraq effort as the principle deputy undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. 

‘That was a piece of cake compared to what we have to do in Afghanistan. This is a much more difficult job.’

Afghanistan is a land-locked country and the US, NATO countries and coalition partners have sent ‘mountains of equipment and supplies’ there since operations began in 2001. Now the coalition effort is drawing down as Afghan forces increasingly take over security. 

According to the DoD, by the end of the summer, 23,000 additional American service members will leave, as well as those from many coalition nations. Combat operations are to wind down next year, and all coalition combat operations are set to conclude at the end of 2014. 

The recent reopening of supply lines through Pakistan has helped, Kendall said. ‘Hopefully they will stay open and we will be able to use them,” he said. “We’ve gone a long way towards negotiating agreements to help in the Northern Distribution Network. There’s still some work to be done there. But that also will help.’

The US military has been planning the manoeuvre for months, and an exercise is underway. 

There are things that make the Afghan operation more difficult than the effort in Iraq and some that make it easier, Kendall said. ‘One of the things that made the Iraq situation easier was, of course, you could just drive in to Kuwait, park things in Kuwait and then ship them wherever you had to,’ he said. 

‘It’s not quite as easy to get out of Afghanistan, but on the other hand, we expect to have a more enduring presence in Afghanistan. So we will be able to move material out at a pace, which is perhaps more reasonable.’

The Shephard News Team


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