Friday, December 11, 2009

The Highway to ($)War

Zabul Province

It is not the fighting season, but more than anything the war of words thousands of miles away seem to dominate issues here. Sitting in a FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Southern Afghanistan we have been affected by weather for the last week, missions planned are cancelled due to weather. So far we have had everything from rain to snow and freezing winds blowing off the mountains, which means that air assets cannot fly and without air all missions are grounded.

If anything this has given me time to look behind some issues in this war, whilst Senior Administration figures continue their drive to put more troops into the battlefield here, figuring that more numbers will solve the war here, it is also a desperate gamble of a punter on a losing streak who believes that eventually luck will turn his way

Perhaps it is time to start looking at issues that they would like to ignore for on the ground the reality can be only to obvious.

It should be noted that the US Government via the Dept of Defense is funding the Taliban. Forget the Opium and Poppy trade that is small money compared to what Uncle Sam is indirectly giving the Taliban.

Food, water, toilet paper and anything else you care to think about has to be trucked from the main US Military Base in Bagram, just North of Kabul to the main battle arena of Kadahar and Helmend in the South. There exists one and only one road, Highway 1. A never ending procession of trucks bring supplies down this route every day.

As part of reconstructing the economy of Afghanistan it was decided to award the trucking contract to six local companies. All very well connected with the upper echelons of the Government here, via family or tribal connections. The value moving the logistics required to fight the war is estimated to be worth close to $2.2 billion.

These civil convoys by law are not allowed to arm themselves with anything more than a rifle such as an AK47. And the warlords who control vast stretches of these roads have no such morals, together with the Taliban they control the Highway to War.

Thus the local trucking companies who want to ensure their lucrative multi million dollar contracts are happy to pay between 10 and 20% to ensure that their convoys reach the battlefield. Taking the low percentage 10% of $2.2 billion dollars, means that the $220 million dollars is going indirectly from Uncle Sam to the Taliban to support their war efforts against the foreign troops here.

It is not a matter of the US Military turning a blind eye to the issue, they know it is happening and whilst it annoys them deeply, they are with like so many other issues in Afghanistan, powerless to end it let alone figure out how to stop it.

In the coming months, thousands more troops will be deployed, meaning that more trucks will be making the trip down the “Highway to War”. More trucks, more corruption, more money for the Taliban. Whilst we wait out the winter, the Taliban may not be as active fighting the war, but their war chest will be reaping the benefits of the surge, one truck at a time.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Mal....that explains much and I expect your blog will be taken down..Watch your back. So..instead of putting in an airstrip where we need it we play games with the Afghani Gov. at the cost of arming the enemy. No wonder they want us to send in Afghani Gov pockets & relatives as well as the people we are fighting. It is no surprise that Uncle Sam is doing this. Uncle is throwing money down more rat holes that there are rats now days...and winning this war doesn't seem to be Uncle's first priority anyway. So, why do we not see this on Fox News? Gutless? Afraid to put on what you guys are risking your lives to report? The truth may upset the politics of both Afghanistan and the USA as well as our allies. Okay...we got the picture and will run with it..use the information as best we can. This needs to be shouted from the roof tops and Uncle needs to know we are wise to him and not pleased. God help our men who have to fight not only the enemy & elements, but two governments, who may I say, I respect no more than the Taliban. This war could be won but not this way. Thank you Mal for standing up and telling the truth..the truth we would never get out of any politician or the Defence Department under the present Administration. There may be no cowards on the battlefield but there sure as hell are in DC. and elsewhere in our country. Best blog you've ever done. Appreciated.
Anonymous 1.

Anonymous said...

Seems I remember you writing about this piece of the plan that isn't going to work either Mr. James. As I recall you saying, the Afghan Army was just as apt to shoot you as the Taliban. Seems their police force is no better. The article is on Looks like the deck is stacked to me, against us and it looks like if everybody else knows these things maybe Mr. Prez should know them too, or, maybe he does. He sure talks big though for someone seemingly so ignorant of the facts.

Building a capable Afghan police force is key to Obama's new war strategy, but shaping up wayward recruits to protect the region is proving to be a difficult undertaking.

Dr Bzzzz said...

So the US are subsidising the Taliban. Well let's face it all the weapons they gave them a few year's ago to fight the Russian's really do need replacing right now so fair is fair....On a more positive note I really, really hope that the US and the allies are improving the situation out there although from your blogs Mal it sounds a little like status quo over all these years. Col. Randy (can't say this name in Britain) Newman is one amazing guy actually. More like him and maybe the place really would change, after say another 100 years. Well blood is always thicker than water after all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, arms to the lesser of two evils when one evil is a potential threat...maybe we should look at the policy of arming any evils at all and taking a more direct path to protect ourselves. Blood is thicker than water but now days that doesn't seem to apply when it comes to the blood of our Military ...unfortunately and disgustingly so. Don't know your General....does he have a solution to the problem Mal described? Do you know him Mal?

Anonymous said...

Mal...just saw Palkots report...Special Forces...Helicopter checkpoints....fantastic report. You must have been hanging out the door of the helicopter to get those shots. Hope you got a rope tied around your leg in case you fall out. Aren't our guys great!!!!!Thanks