Logistical Costs Burden Operations In Afghanistan

by: Matthew Potter
October 16, 2009

Category: Business Line, Congress, Countries, Department of Defense, DLA, Events, Federal Budget Process, logistics, Services, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army | RSS 2.0

Wars are expensive there is no doubt. As part of the planning for adding troops to Afghanistan the U.S. Department of Defense was asked why it costs about a $1 billion a year for a 1,000 soldiers to operate there. One of the main expenses it turns out is fuel. To get one gallon of JP8 to a soldier or airman who needs it costs about $400 if all related costs are taken into account. This figure alone is giving Congress second thoughts.

That is because the gas is shipped to Pakistan and then trucked to Afghanistan. To get it to the various outposts and bases sometimes requires aircraft and helicopters. For a helicopter to carry a gallon of gas probably takes a few gallons of gas and at a high maintenance rate. There is also the cost of all the personnel and contractors to handle the gas and supplies.

This should not really surprise anyone. In John Ellis’ book about World War II soldiers, On The Front Lines, he estimated it took about eleven personnel to support one front line soldier in the Pacific and almost ten in the European. That counted everyone who touched a ton of supplies as it moved from the U.S. to the actual soldier. That cost alone was fairly high. Take into account the gas used to move it and the maintenance of the ships, trucks and aircraft and the costs go up even more. Afghanistan is remote and costs even more.

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