Air Logistics to Support Afghan Ops
The logistics cost and challenge for the next phase of the Afghan operation will be significant. Afghanistan is not Iraq to quote General Petraeus. This is true in multiple ways, but no more so than in terms of operations and logistics. The geography and terrain in Afghanistan require what the USMC calls “distributed operations,” and with what the USMC calls “expeditionary logistics”. Such logistics require SIGNIFICANT use of air assets to connect deployed forces, and with those air assets significant energy and basing costs.
20 million pounds cargo air-dropped over Afghanistan in 2009
In 2005, military aircraft airdropped two million pounds of cargo. This past September alone, four million pounds were air dropped in theater. It is estimated that in 2009 20 million pounds will have been air dropped in theater.
Another cost to consider will be the ramp up of pressure to recapitalize the air infrastructure, which provides for the warfighter. Here the costs for modernizing C5s, adding C130s and C17s, the acceleration of the A400M, the rebuilding of the US tanker fleet, the entry of the new A330 allied tankers (UK and Australian tankers will arrive significantly before any new US tankers which are yet to be contracted, let alone procured) must be considered. The significant increase in air dropping required for Afghan operational support will require modernization of the fleet assigned to such a mission and “surge logistics“.
A day at Camp Bastion
This slide show highlights a day (December 11, 2009) in the life of Camp Bastion for the air transport fleet supporting the troops:
One photo shows a 60K loader to a DHL DC8 aircraft, Dec. 11 unloads cargo. The members from the 451st ELRS received 18 pallets of mail and supplies for the members of Camp Bastion.
A second shows the 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron off loading an MRAP from a C-17 Globemaster III.
A third shows a 451st ELRS air transportation specialist, unloading pallets off a DHL DC8 aircraft.
A fourth shows a British air force member guiding a U.S Air Force C-17 Globemaster III landing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, into its parking spot. The C-17 is delivering MRAPs to provide safety and security during convoy operations.
A final photo shows the 451st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron taking pallets off of a 60K loader. The 451st ELRS received 18 pallets for the members of Camp Bastion.
***Posted December 19th, 2009