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30,000 more troops to Afghanistan – but how to get them there?

Gen. Duncan McNabb, head of the US Transportation Command, is in the thick of deciding how to get 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan, per President Obama’s order. It won’t be easy.

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General Duncan McNabb heads the US Transportation Command and will help oversee the “surge” of US troops into landlocked Afghanistan. He discussed logistical challenges of that task with a group of reporters in Washington on Dec. 9.

On how to get 30,000 additional US troops and their equipment to Afghanistan by next fall:

“We’re at about the point where 50 percent is going through Pakistan, 30 percent from the Northern Distribution Network [commercial arrangements that connect Baltic and Caspian ports with Afghanistan via Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus], and 20 percent by air. We take everything lethal and sensitive by air.... What I’m trying to make sure is that we have the capacity from the north and the Pakistan side. We don’t have all of that in place, but that’s where I’d like to be.”

On the plan if any one point of entry fails or must be closed:

“I want to make sure we can bring everything in by air, but that would be really hard to do.”

On the challenge of transporting materiel within Afghanistan:

“The big thing is: Once we get the stuff in, how do you distribute it [out to US forces] within the country?... You can secure the area to get convoys through, or you can run convoys with armed protection, or you can bring it through vertically, using helicopters, aircraft, or ‘airdrops’ [in which equipment parachutes down from an aircraft].... You’ve seen [airdrops] increase dramatically.”

On flying over other countries’ airspace to reach Afghanistan:

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