Saturday, December 20, 2014

Afghan Supply Chain a Weak Point

The U.S. military is laboring to shore up a vulnerable supply chain through Pakistan and Central Asia as it seeks to expand the flow of supplies into Afghanistan by at least 50 percent to support an influx of tens of thousands of new troops, according to defense officials and experts.

One new link is now undergoing testing with the first shipment of U.S. military nonlethal cargo through Russia, officials said. That cargo has already crossed into Kazakhstan on its way to Afghanistan, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Escalating attacks on supply convoys in Pakistan, the anticipated closure in less than six months of the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan — the last remaining U.S. air hub in Central Asia — and slow progress in opening up the northern supply route into Afghanistan have added urgency to the effort to strengthen the logistical backup for the troop increase, they said.

“If you ask me what I worry about at night, it is the fact that our supply chain is always under attack,” said Gen. Duncan McNabb, commander of the U.S. military’s transportation command, in testimony that focused on Afghanistan last week.

McNabb said that so far 130 contract drivers have been killed trucking U.S. supplies through Pakistan, for example. Once inside Afghanistan, he said, some roads are so dangerous that the U.S. military will have to fly over them to carry in supplies and personnel.

“As we increase the troop presence there, we will have to look at which areas will you secure, which areas will you convoy through and which areas will you have to jump over — in other words, go by vertical lift,” he said in House Armed Services Committee testimony.

The U.S. military is seeking to expand its flow of ground cargo into Afghanistan by at least 50 percent, to more than 100 containers per day, to meet the needs of the initial increase of 17,000 U.S. troops this year ordered by President Obama last month, McNabb said. There are currently about 38,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and U.S. commanders have asked to increase that number to as many as 60,000 to combat an intensifying Taliban insurgency.

Up to 90 percent of U.S. military ground cargo, which consists of nonlethal supplies such as food, fuel, water and construction materials, currently flows through Pakistan, defense officials said. Those supplies enter Afghanistan primarily through Torkham gate at the Khyber Pass and Chaman gate further south.

“You very clearly have an issue of flow through a small number of choke points that seem increasingly vulnerable,” said Craig Mullaney, who served as an Army officer in Afghanistan before becoming a war adviser to the Obama campaign.

The military wants to open a significant new ground supply distribution route into Afghanistan through the north, primarily through rail lines in Termez, Uzbekistan, which connect with tracks that extend about 10 miles across the border into Afghanistan, officials said. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan also agreed last month to allow nonlethal U.S. military cargo to travel on their roads and rail lines, officials and experts said.

The goal is for the northern route via the Russian rail system to handle about 20 percent of the ground cargo destined for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, or about 100 20-foot containers per week, compared with about 500 per week through Pakistan, officials said.

So far, however, that flow is much smaller, partly due to bureaucratic problems, they said. “There are obviously learning curves in crossing different boundaries and making sure customs paper work is in place,” said one defense official, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations over supply routes.

Apart from the ground cargo, all lethal and sensitive U.S. military supplies, as well as all personnel, travel into Afghanistan by air. Such supplies include ammunition, weapons and vehicles with sensitive communications and other gear. Air cargo demands will increase significantly as fresh troops move into Afghanistan, according to McNabb. For example, when the Army’s Stryker combat brigade heads to Afghanistan this summer, all of its vehicles will be flown into the country, he said. The military’s mine-resistant armored vehicles are also flown in to avoid attacks, he said.

The U.S. military’s efforts to sustain and grow air supply in the region faced a setback, however, with Kyrgyzstan’s decision last month to close Manas Air Base, the last remaining U.S. base in Central Asia following the shutdown in 2005 of a base in Uzbekistan.

Manas, a key mobility hub, served annually as a base for thousands of air missions, the transport of about 50,000 tons of cargo, and the refueling of more than 5,000 airplanes to support the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, according to U.S. data for 2007.

Indeed, the requirement to remove the Air Force tanker refueling aircraft from Manas will pose one of the biggest problems for the U.S. military if the base is closed as expected. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev told the BBC on Wednesday that “the doors are not closed” for talks on the base. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “remains hopeful” that the base agreement can be extended before the six-month deadline imposed by the Kyrgyz government for U.S. troops to leave, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said yesterday. Still, Morrell said the Pentagon has “a number of very good alternatives” if Manas closes.

Experts said the refueling could be done from U.S. bases in the Middle East — perhaps from Bahrain or Qatar — but that would be far more expensive and time-consuming given the distance from Afghanistan. Defense officials said negotiations are underway on possible places to relocate the tankers.

Still, experts said they do not foresee other Central Asian countries allowing the U.S. military to station an air base on their territory. “If you define the region as the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia, I don’t think there is a possibility at this time for an air base of the kind we had in Manas or in Uzbekistan prior to 2005,” said Evan Feigenbaum, a former U.S. envoy in Kyrgyzstan who is currently a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “A fixed American military installation is a huge undertaking politically for them,” he said.

One important factor is what experts see as Russia’s efforts to expel the U.S. military from bases in Central Asia.

“For Moscow, the absolute priority is holding onto their sphere of influence” in former Soviet republics in Central Asia, said Stephen Blank, a Russia expert at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. “That overrides everything else. That means excluding the U.S.”

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 6, 2009; A10

Main Issues During its 63rd session

Financing for Development

The Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Doha, Qatar, on 29 November to 2 December 2008.

As the Conference took place at the time of the ongoing global financial crisis, nearly all statements focused on the severe consequences of the crisis for development and the need for bold and urgent measures to address them, including strengthening of the financial oversight and global regulatory system and building a more stable and inclusive financial system.

Member States also underscored the global food crisis, which, if not addressed urgently, threatens to become a prolonged humanitarian tragedy. The financial implications of climate change and the need to strengthen the FfD follow-up process featured prominently on the agenda as well.

The two key messages of the Doha Declaration highlighted the strong commitment by developed countries to maintain their ODA targets irrespective of the current financial crisis; and the decision to hold a United Nations Conference at the highest level on the impact of the current financial and economic crisis on development to be organized by the President of the General Assembly.

Other highlights of the Doha Declaration are:

  • Domestic resource mobilization: the importance of national ownership of development strategies and of an inclusive financial sector, as well as the need for strong policies on gender equality and human development, with a provision for adequate policy space in developing countries.
  • Mobilizing international resources for development: the need to expand the reach of private flows to greater number of developing countries and to expand areas of investment to include human resources, transport, energy, communications, information technology, etc.
  • International trade as an engine for development: the importance of concluding the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations, with a meaningful development content, taking into account special needs of the Least Developed Countries.
  • Increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development: the importance of maintaining ODA commitments by donors while addressing special needs of low- and middle-income countries, and the call for the close monitoring of ODA flows.
  • External debt: the need to strengthen crisis prevention mechanisms and to explore enhanced approaches for debt restructuring mechanisms.
  • Addressing systemic issues: a strong criticism of the existing global economic governance arrangements and the call for major and comprehensive reforms, particularly of BWIs; and the call for a major UN conference to discuss the impact of the financial crisis on development, the modalities of which to be decided by the end of March 2009 at the latest.
  • Other new and emerging issues: recognition of the challenges posed to FfD by the climate change and the fluctuations in the prices of primary commodities, including food and energy.
  • Staying engaged: the call for strengthening the follow-up mechanism of the Monterrey and Doha Conferences.

Climate change

Climate change in a divided but ecologically interdependent world

Climate change is a central multi-dimensional issue in this XXI century.  An unsustainable and selfish culture of production and consumption has created a vast problem of future dramatic consequences for Mother Earth and for future generations. The threats to stability and human security are very serious and will affect the whole international community, with the most negative impacts on its poorest and the most vulnerable members, the small island states and the least developed countries.

The 63rd. session of the General Assembly is taking place in the process of the Bali Road Map negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol.

The aim during this session will be to provide the most wide and substantial support to the climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland and to the following meeting in 2009 towards the Copenhagen Conference in December. This will happen by the recent adoption of the resolution “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind” which contains messages for the UN climate conference in Poznan and onwards and by the organization of thematic debates. Among possible subjects for these multilateral gatherings in New York could include: transfer of cleaner energy and adaptation technologies to developing countries, vulnerability and adaption, unsustainable consumption patterns and interfaith dialogue towards a moral call for action on climate change.

UN Decade “Water for Life” (2005-2015)

General Assembly: a legitimate answer for the Water Crisis.

The 63rd. session of the General Assembly is taking place during very troubling times.   Existing structural problems like   armed conflicts, poverty, lack of access to health and education, trade injustice and environmental degradation are aggravated by unprecedented energy, food and financial crisis. We are in a very dangerous situation originated and aggravated by human selfishness, greed and lack of democratic governance.

Among the priorities identified by the President is the need to implement and achieve the goals of the United Nations Decade: “Water for Life” (2005-2015), adopted by Resolution 58/217 in February 2004. In its preamble the resolution recognizes that water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being.

Water issues are currently under the agenda of a profusion of a complex network of intergovernmental organizations, hybrid public-private constituencies, transnational corporations and non governmental organizations.

As we are approaching the first half of the Water for Life decade, the global water crisis deepens. There is an urgent need to search for sustainable development solutions and to discuss at the highest political level issues like water governance and access, water scarcity, the role of water in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, water quality,  water conservation, sanitary infrastructure, privatization, the role of agriculture, transboundary water issues (also under the agenda of the International Law Commission and the Sixth Committee) and conflicts, science and technology, informed and legitimate water assessments, climate change, adaptation, natural disasters, gender, equity and human rights issues related to water. The international crisis described above will disproportionately affect the poor and the water sector is critical for their survival.

The General Assembly is the most legitimate political global body.  Its unique representativeness and democratic character make it the natural place for debating, affirming principles and providing answers for the global water crisis. The General Assembly could enable the dialogue of governments and civil society organizations towards human and global solutions on water conservation, world water justice and democracy, establishing a new decision making and governance international structure for water issues.  It will also be an opportunity to send a clear signal for international development agencies to focus and redirect its actions towards water services that fulfill human needs and in particular those of the neediest sectors.  At the same time, this unique multidimensional issue, water, would be a meaningful possibility for the restoration of the Assembly’s powers, one of the other priorities for this session.

Water and poverty are strong symbols of inequality of the world, and the General Assembly has to perform a central role in fighting this injustice.  The Assembly must be the democratic and unifying factor that will transform the current pessimism in optimism by reaching political commitments that can formulate a path working toward equity and justice and with the establishment of social, scientific and technological innovations. The President, in consultation with Member States and competent UN agencies, will inform the future concrete steps to start advancing these objectives.

Implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy, with full respect for human rights

A multilateral landmark in the collective fight against international terrorism was the adoption of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Strategy, in September 2006. The strategy forms a basis for a concrete plan of action: to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; to prevent and combat terrorism; to take measures to build state capacity to fight terrorism; to strengthen the role of the United Nations in combating terrorism; and to ensure the respect of human rights while countering terrorism. The strategy builds on the unique consensus achieved by world leaders at their 2005 September Summit to condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

The Presidency of the 63rd. General Assembly will contribute with all its efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Strategy, which was reviewed in September this year by adopting a resolution reaffirming its commitment to the Strategy and its implementation.

The Presidency recalls the important work on the issue of the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism being done by the United Nations and its overall efforts to promote peace, security, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law. We have an urgent need to resolve the underlying regional and internal conflicts as well as the dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the lack of the rule of law and the violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance.

Fighting against terrorism must proceed with full respect of principles and rules of international law, human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. The presidency will continue its support to the important work of the Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and Human Rights and is considering the organization of thematic events on these essential issues for 2009.

[print_link]

H.E. Ban Ki Moon’s Priorities for Action

Peace and security

peacekeepWe must strengthen the UN’s ability to play its role to the fullest extent in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding – these are all part of a continuum, and our approach must be integrated, coordinated and comprehensive. By enhancing our capacity for preventive diplomacy and supporting sustainable peace processes, we will build long-term solutions and respond more effectively to conflict.

Africa

Some 65 per cent of the UN peacekeeping budget is devoted to Africa. But to tackle the problem of conflicts in Africa, we need to address its root causes. Peacekeeping must therefore be accompanied by political processes to resolve conflicts, and development must be prioritized to secure an enduring peace. Sudan requires our special attention. The pace of implementation of the 2005 agreement that ended the long-running civil war between North and South must be accelerated, including the preparation of elections in 2009. To end the tragedy of Darfur, now that we have agreement on an African Union–United Nations force, we must get boots on the ground quickly. The root causes of the conflict have to be tackled, and the parties must move to comprehensive peace talks. The peace talks initiated in Sirte, Libya, bringing together the Sudanese government, rebel groups, civil society and countries in the region will attempt to hammer out a peace agreement.

Middle East

The region is as complex, fragile and dangerous as it has ever been, and yet there are opportunities for reconciliation to be grasped. On the deep mistrust between Palestinians and Israelis that forestalls a meaningful peace process, a constructive UN role within the Quartet and in support of the Arab Peace Initiative will hopefully encourage movement towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. Iraq is the whole world’s problem. We are all aware of the road that brought us to this point, but the UN can be instrumental in developing an inclusive political process to promote national reconciliation, in cultivating a regional environment that is more stable and in providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians, including the almost 4 million refugees and internally displaced Iraqis.

Non-proliferation and disarmament

disarmThe risk of proliferation of nuclear and other weapons hangs like a sword of Damocles over our heads. The Security Council has taken some significant steps to pursue the goal of non-proliferation in North Korea and Iran. On North Korea, I am personally committed to facilitating the smooth progress of the Six-Party process, and to encouraging the work of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Development

developWhile threats to peace must be addressed, my concern lies equally with those men, women and children of the world struggling to make ends meet – it is intolerable that almost 1 billion people still live on less than $1 a day. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a blueprint to ensure that in a technology-rich and prosperous twenty-first century, no human being should be dying of malnutrition or preventable diseases, or be deprived of education or access to basic health care. Treatment, prevention, care and support for HIV victims can be brought within everyone’s reach, and this deadly epidemic must be reined in. We must spare no effort in reaching the MDGs, particularly in Africa. I will mobilize political will and hold leaders to their commitment to allocate adequate resources and development aid – and to address disparities in the global trade regime which handcuff so many developing nations.

Climate change

climateIf we care about our legacy for succeeding generations, this is the time for decisive global action. The UN is the natural forum for building consensus and negotiating future global action – all nations can take firm steps towards being carbon-neutral. The September 2007 high-level event set in motion the impetus for leaders to look ahead to the discussions on the UN Framework Convention in December 2007 and sent the message – this is no longer business as usual. The Bali Conference must be a starting point for negotiations to replace commitments agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol which is due to expire in 2012. We must galvanize political will across the developing and industrialized nations of the world to ensure that negotiations bring results.

Human rights

rightIf security and development are two pillars of the UN’s work, human rights is the third. The promise contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will mark its sixtieth anniversary in 2008, must continue to drive actions on the ground. The Human Rights Council must live up to its responsibilities as the torch-bearer for human rights consistently and equitably around the world. The expression “never again” must hold real meaning. I will strive to translate the concept of the Responsibility to Protect from words to deeds to ensure timely action when populations face genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.

UN reform

scrtariatEffectiveness and rationalization have to be the touchstone of how the Organization measures up to new challenges. We must simplify and streamline our rules, policies and processes, and align our practices with the best from both private and public sectors. Reform is needed because the UN and its staff must adapt to meet new needs – and while we do more with less, we must work with all stakeholders to obtain the resources and support we need for key management reforms. By ensuring the highest standards of ethics, integrity and accountability, we can show that we are fully answerable to all Member States and the world’s public.

Global problems demand global solutions – and going it alone is not a viable option. Some may say this is looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses. I believe, optimist that I am, that we have come full circle since that magical moment in San Francisco over 60 years ago. The UN is more in demand than ever before – and it is because expectations are so high that the possibility of disappointment is also high. I do not believe in miracles, but I do have faith in human decency, diligence and incremental progress. Above all, I believe in results, not rhetoric. The fundamental purposes and principles of this Organization are inspiring and enduring – we need to renew our pledge to live up to them. My partners in this noble enterprise are the Member States and civil society. Their commitment, action and perseverance will serve as the engine propelling us to fulfil the promise of 1945.

[print_link]