U.S. Looks at New Ways to Supply Troops in Afghanistan
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 The United States must study ways to resupply troops in Afghanistan if Pakistan closes the supply corridor through that country, President Barack Obama’s choice to lead U.S. Transportation Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III testified before the committee as part of his confirmation process. He currently leads the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, and would succeed Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb at Transcom.
“If confirmed, I look forward to joining the United States Transportation Command family, the more than 145,000 men and women who are dedicated to delivering, sustaining and then returning our forces,” Fraser said in his opening statement before the committee.
The senators pressed Fraser about resupply of American forces in Afghanistan. He said that some 35 percent of the cargo for American forces travels through Pakistan. The rest moves along the northern supply routes and via airlift. If Pakistan were to cut off that avenue, there would be a disruption in supply, the general told the senators. The professionals at Transportation Command, in conjunction with their compatriots at U.S. Central Command, are working to lessen any effects if the Pakistanis close that route, he added.
“I know ongoing planning is happening,” Fraser said. “I know there would be a disruption. But if confirmed, I would delve deeply into that plan to ensure that any disruption that we have is minimal, to ensure that we continue to provide that effective yet efficient support to the warfighter.”
The command is working, for instance, to develop intratheater airlift. He said Transcom is working with countries in the Persian Gulf for access to ports. Ships would deliver material to the region, and intratheater lift aircraft would take it to Afghanistan.
Transportation Command is responsible not only for supplying warfighters in direct combat with the enemy, but also for moving military families around the world. The command – based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. -- coordinates the Air Mobility Command, the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
“I know the critical importance of rapid, efficient and timely global logistics,” he said. “I also understand at the heart of that capability is the innovation and creativity of thousands of men and women who really make it happen.”
Fraser credited McNabb with charting a vision for the command based “on making our forces more effective and more efficient through rapid and responsive global logistical solutions and interagency, nongovernment, commercial and international partnerships,” he said. “We will always deliver.”