Logistics and a Stone Wall

Logistics conference with ANA.

Since the beginning of time when large armies have mobilized, logistics functions have played a vital function.  Whether it’s providing subsistence, fuel, firewood, or bullets, the logistician’s role has complemented the effectiveness of an army.  The Afghan Army is no different and is faced with a myriad of logistical challenges.  This is where my ETT team

ANA 7 ton truck loaded with soldiers.

plays a fundamental role.  Today we held a logistics conference in an attempt to resolve some of these nagging and persistent challenges to the logistical system supporting the Afghan forces.  For OPSEC reasons, I won’t divulge the context of the meeting, but I think some of the problems addressed were resolved.  Others will take time until an amicable solution and agreement is reached.

Although it was not addressed, one of the biggest problems still plaguing the logistical system is the endemic corruption at all levels.  Education can be a powerful tool, especially when it is combined with capitalism.  So educated businessman have found ways to maximize profits by subcontracting, providing inferior quality and the rabid frenzy of corruption festers its way through the entire logistical system.  A prime example is the low-grade quality of the food being provided to the ANA soldiers.  They are constantly complaining about the poor quality of the meat and food items provided to them.  Years ago when the US controlled the contracts, the ANA boasted about tasty food and being able to drink Coca Cola in their chow hall.  But now this lucrative contract has been turned over to the Ministry of Defense and handed out to local contractors or relatives.  The quality of the food has taken a nose dive and Coca Cola is an afterthought and nonexistent.  Yet, I have been told we are still providing the same amount of money as we did when the US administered the contract.  Perhaps this explains why the contracting office will receive 5-6 email follow-ups just to ensure their first email was received concerning bidding on a local contract.   A camp mate also told me about a meeting he attended on budgetary issues.  A prominent Afghan stood up and addressed the crowd.  He said, “We don’t need the additional coalition forces, all we need is your money”.

Building a wall, Afghan style.

Yesterday I briefly spoke about the challenges and the walls a mentor runs into during the normal course of their deployment.  But today instead of being metaphoric, I want to give you some insight to the building of a wall.  To be more precise, the construction of a stone wall.  The Afghans have become quite skilled in building walls.  They have customarily put up walls to clearly define their property boundaries and to provide security for their families.   The wall in the picture is to enhance the security posture for our camp.  Notice the crude wood scaffolding that is being used.  The cement is mixed by hand in a wheelbarrow and then transferred by shovel to a large metal bowl.  The masons then carefully align the stones and secure it with the cement mixture.  The first picture was taken a few weeks ago and the cold weather has hampered their progress.  But today I took an updated picture to show their progress.

Construction of the wall.

Lately, ANA land has been flooded with new recruits and I watch daily as these former farmers, teenagers, and unemployed laborers are transformed into ANA soldiers.   Most of them are attracted to the new salaries being doled out.  But there is also hope that a

ANA soldiers marching around the ANA compound.

spark of nationalism is starting to ignite and they are serving to protect the national interests of their country.  I am hoping next week to observe some of the NATO weapons training being provided to them.  Before we can swap out their AK-47 rifles, we have to make them proficient and knowledgeable on handling and using an M-16 rifle.


One Response

  1. well everyone needs a piece of the pie,before it go’s away. the bad part is it’s going to the wrong people.
    stay safe. 🙂

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