The U.S. engagement in Afghanistan, including the 30,000 “plus-up” currently underway, represents one of the most difficult logistical challenges in the annals of war – a challenge even for the United States, which is the world champion of supply solutions.  Afghanistan is harder than the Vietnam “land war in Asia” or the Berlin airlift or Iraq I and II. These previous engagements, although difficult logistically, pale in comparison to the task of supplying 100,000 troops and as many contractors in Afghanistan over nine years and counting. Landlocked, mountainous, beset by civil war, banditry and extreme underdevelopment, Afghanistan is surrounded by a clutch of hostile, suspicious, barely functioning sovereignties.

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Amid the daily reports of deepening military problems in Afghanistan, NATO operations there are at risk not just because of the mounting tempo of the Taliban but also because allied capitals are papering over deep disagreements about the strategy and the conduct of the campaign. The command structure is afflicted by the simultaneous presence in the field of many three and four-star generals from different countries and their divergences have damaged morale among troops and officials on the ground and spread pessimism in the Western media, especially in Europe. The U.S. feeling of political concern has become acute now that Britain is showing signs of becoming lukewarm about its Afghan commitment. If Britain, the key U.S. ally in the campaign, were to pull its forces out of Afghanistan, it would be easy to see other European governments following the British lead to the exit.

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Kertu RuusSuddenly, the lights go out. Communication lines fall silent. Internet connections are lost. People venturing into the congested streets discover that banks are closed, ATMs are malfunctioning, traffic lights are jammed. Radio and TV stations cannot broadcast. The airports and train stations are shut down. Food production halts, and the water supply starts rapidly diminishing as pumps stop working. Looters are on the rampage; panic grips the public; the police cannot maintain order.

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