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Withdrawing forces from Afghanistan

This is a discussion on Withdrawing forces from Afghanistan within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; How hard will it be to withdraw military equipment from Afghanistan over the next couple of years, if relations with ...


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Old January 4th, 2012   #1
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Withdrawing forces from Afghanistan

How hard will it be to withdraw military equipment from Afghanistan over the next couple of years, if relations with Pakistan do not improve?

I cant imagine it would be feasible or cost effective flying all equipment back to the USA or Europe.

Would be interested in your opinion on the options that would be available to ISAF?

Last edited by camlans; January 4th, 2012 at 06:43 PM. Reason: bad grammar
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Old January 5th, 2012   #2
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Leave it there, most of the military units have already said that it is the present plan. Most of the equipment out there are vehicles like MRAPs, armoured cars etc that are either specially designed for Afghani conditions or so well worn and cheap to replace that its not worth bringing them back so they will go to the ANA.

The larger equipment; helicopters, MBTs and the like will probably start drifting out by air but somewhere along the line an arrangement with a port will have to be made. If not then the likelihood is that they wont fly them all the way back to Europe or America, probably only Cyrpus at the furthest, from where they will board ships for the long leg of the journey.
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Old January 6th, 2012   #3
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I think that in many cases, the equipment will be flown to the closest port, and shipped home the rest of the way. This is the easiest and most cost effective way as Afghanistan is land locked, as you probably already know.

If things don't improve relations wise over the Strait of Hormuz, we may just be able to drive them over to Chabahar, and ship them home from there.

MRAPS are not particularly cheap vehicles, I don't see us leaving them there, at least not all of them. The ANA could sure use them though.
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Old January 7th, 2012   #4
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I do see US leaving some equipment but not all. The way the US brought the equipment in is the way it will bring it out. The different I see it will not be going threw Pakistan. The US has the largest fleet of ships and planes in the world so I don't see any problem in getting the equipment out.
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Old January 10th, 2012   #5
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Agreed, the equipment will be removed. Flying it out will take forever and cost a fortune though. Better to make an agreement with Pakistan to transport the equipment over land to a port and load it on ships. That's how it got in country and is still the best way to get it out.
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Old July 14th, 2012   #6
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Well Italy just signed a deal with Russia that allows air transit of military cargo. The document says that this can be done for the purpose of "reconstruction in Afghanistan" and Russia retains unilateral rights to pull the plug on the agreement. Any weapons being transported have to make a mandatory stop in Russia for inspection, personnel can travel without such stop. The agreement lasts 1 year, after which it's automatically extended if neither side expresses a desire to terminate it.

Италии разрешили транзит через территорию *оссии*—*О*УЖИЕ *ОССИИ, Информационное агентство

Seems like a nice model for finding cheaper routes out of Afghan, for the European nations at least.
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Old July 15th, 2012   #7
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I have read that collectively, NATO will be abandoning equipment with a value of up $2 Billion.

Not exactly the best of news especially for nations caught in the grip of austerity!

The reason given is that it costs too much to bring it home, which is rather a surprising claim given the cost of most military equipment these days. There is very little doubt that the cost is either being raised by punitive tariffs on the nations through which they would need to transit, if not actually banned.

It does create a PR disaster as well, as the overall image: Enemy still in the field, troops leaving by the shortest route and weapons left abandoned, is one as old as warfare itself.

NATO has been trying to mitigate that image by present the equipment as military aid to some Central Asian countries, but Russia has objected very strongly to this, which makes pretty clear that it is determined not only to control what equipment leaves Afghanistan but also the way it is disposed of.

I also strongly suspect that the awarding of Afghanistan by the US as "Key none NATO ally (or somesuch)" the other week along with the billions worth of aid, is a package to help the disposal of the equipment in a dignified manner.

Much of above was being discussed while only the Central Asia, Russia exit route was the only one available. Since then Pakistan has reopened its routes, which reintroduces other factors, but of course it is politically precarious and only ever one drone strike away from being closed again.
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Old July 17th, 2012   #8
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It does create a PR disaster as well, as the overall image: Enemy still in the field, troops leaving by the shortest route and weapons left abandoned, is one as old as warfare itself.
Prince Khalid, in his 'Desert Warrior' claimed that Allied armies, after the liberation of Kuwait, left stocks of ammo in the Saudi desert, rather than take them back home.
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Old July 17th, 2012   #9
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Prince Khalid, in his 'Desert Warrior' claimed that Allied armies, after the liberation of Kuwait, left stocks of ammo in the Saudi desert, rather than take them back home.
Not really the same situation.

Desert Storm was an unqualified mission accomplished and a lot of ammo and other equipment was kept in Saudi as a forward supply in the case of further rapid deployment. The US had easy access and could retrieve anytime it wanted.

Nothing could be further from that situation in Afghanistan, irrespective of how it is spun.
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Old July 17th, 2012   #10
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Prince Khalid, in his 'Desert Warrior' claimed that Allied armies, after the liberation of Kuwait, left stocks of ammo in the Saudi desert, rather than take them back home.
If it'd been issued and then returned from active units, then certainly in UK service, it can't be put back in stores - it'd have to be destroyed or expended. You can't drive around with a bunch of live ammo in the field, then park it back in the armoury.

There's a vivid account from one of the various Desert Storm books about the SAS firing off hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of ammunition after the war in training - including Milan, HMG rounds, cannon, the lot.


As far as vehicles, I can't comment on the US position but the UK bought a whole load of UOR vehicles to fit various roles and there's every intention on streamlining matters by gifting a chunk of them to the Afghanistan government - it's cheaper than repatriating them, only to then sell them off at auction. I'm saving up for a Coyote myself, ideal for urban driving....
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Old July 17th, 2012   #11
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I have read that collectively, NATO will be abandoning equipment with a value of up $2 Billion.

Not exactly the best of news especially for nations caught in the grip of austerity!

The reason given is that it costs too much to bring it home, which is rather a surprising claim given the cost of most military equipment these days. There is very little doubt that the cost is either being raised by punitive tariffs on the nations through which they would need to transit, if not actually banned.

It does create a PR disaster as well, as the overall image: Enemy still in the field, troops leaving by the shortest route and weapons left abandoned, is one as old as warfare itself.

NATO has been trying to mitigate that image by present the equipment as military aid to some Central Asian countries, but Russia has objected very strongly to this, which makes pretty clear that it is determined not only to control what equipment leaves Afghanistan but also the way it is disposed of..
I've not heard of weapons being left behind, & $2 billion sounds very low for what the Yanks are likely to abandon. Their bases have a hell of a lot of stuff on them, from tumble driers to exercise bikes, which really aren't worth the cost of shipping home. Even the buildings are prefabs put together from imported sections.

There's going to be a bonanza for the locals, as they move in & loot abandoned bases.
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Old July 17th, 2012   #12
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I do see US leaving some equipment but not all. The way the US brought the equipment in is the way it will bring it out. The different I see it will not be going threw Pakistan. The US has the largest fleet of ships and planes in the world so I don't see any problem in getting the equipment out.
The US doesn't have the largest fleet of ships in the world (it has the largest navy, which is a very different thing), & in any case, ships can't get to Afghanistan: it's landlocked.

The cost of flying out low-value equipment is more than the cost of buying replacements. Nobody air freights a washing machine unless they need it in a place which can only be reached by air - and then you don't fly it back out unless there's a very important reason for not leaving it behind.
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Old July 25th, 2012   #13
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All that equipment that will be left behind is probably going to be put to use.

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Konar police Chief Ewaz Mohammad Naziri said 1,960 shells, mostly artillery rounds, have hit various districts of the province in recent months. Pakistan denies that accusation. The shelling comes days after Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss joint efforts to persuade Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to join peace talks and end the cross-border shelling.

On Sunday, the deputy Afghan foreign minister, Jawed Ludin, met with Pakistans ambassador to Kabul and issued a warning. Any continuation of such reported shelling against Afghan villages could have a significant negative impact on bilateral relations, Ludin told Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, the Foreign Ministry reported.

A day after Kabul’s warning to Pakistan, more cross-border shelling reported - The Washington Post

NATO may be ending their large scale involvement in Afghanistan but the war is far from over. India, Pakistan, Iran and to a lesser extent China are all going to be pursuing their interests in Afghanistan in 2015. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see significant fighting between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the not too distant future.
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Old July 26th, 2012   #14
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Not really the same situation.

Desert Storm was an unqualified mission accomplished and a lot of ammo and other equipment was kept in Saudi as a forward supply in the case of further rapid deployment. The US had easy access and could retrieve anytime it wanted.
The author of the book was not referring to stuff kept in FOBs but stuff just left/abandoned in the desert without the Saudis being informed.
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Old July 26th, 2012
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Old September 10th, 2012   #15
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I think it's relatively safe for US forces to evacuate their vehicles by land into Karachi Port, and from there by ships.
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