News: The supply and demand of war: Logistics conference brings Afghan and coalition leaders together
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Hartman
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - “I’m here to help,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. “I need to find out what the challenges are.”
Terry, along with Afghan National Army Lt. Gen. Arkanharab Muhammad Akram, the Deputy Chief of the ANA, Lt. Gen. Murad Ali, the Afghan National Security Forces ground commander, and several coalition forces senior officers flew in from Kabul to discuss the hurdles and successes of the ANA supply process during a logistics conference held at Forward Operating Base Thunder, March 4.
203rd Thunder Corps received the coalition delegation with a large spread of traditional Afghan cuisine, followed by a royal welcome from the FOB Thunder honor guard and band before the logistics briefings began.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Godfrey, the senior logistics advisor to the 203rd Thunder Corps, said the conference was a great opportunity to bring senior leadership from the ANA and coalition forces together to show how complex and intricate the supply system currently is and address ongoing issues.
“They’re looking to see what can we do to streamline it, what can we do to make it more efficient, and how do we apply a timeline to that process,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey added that after 11 years of support, the main focus has been combat training and operations and much of the logistical action has come from coalition forces. But that focus is changing as the 2014 withdrawal timeline approaches.
“As the combat operations have grown and their capability to conduct that,” Godfrey said.
Now the logistics have become a part of that and they’re feeling those growing pains.”
With the expansion of responsibility over their own combat operations, the ANA have had to fine-tune their ability to support the front line units. Without food, uniforms or bullets, combat arms units cannot be effective. ANA Lt. Col. Khal Muhammad, a supply officer with 203rd Thunder Corps, said logistics plays a vital role in supporting those needs.
“Whether it’s infantry or artillery, they need all those items necessary for the military to feed them and put boots on their feet,” Muhammad said. “All those things come from logistics. It’s a significant section of any military.”
Along with their briefing at FOB Thunder, the senior officers flew to Camp Parsa in Khowst province for a tour of ANA supply warehouses and vehicle repair shops. During the tour, the ANA demonstrated how their supply process flows and displayed their equipment.
One of the more pressing topics was maintenance of the ANA fleet of Ford Rangers, which they use as tactical vehicles. Both U.S. and Afghan logistical officers expressed concern over the backlog of vehicles requiring repair, but could not agree on how many vehicles were operational due to a difference in opinion on what constitutes operational.
“They get it done. They are resourceful. They may not necessarily do it the same way we’d do it but they do meet the requirements,” Godfrey said. “What standard do you apply to it? Do you apply the American standard or the Afghan standard?
“That’s the unfortunate thing, is a lot of people look at it through a Western lens and apply our standards,” added the logistics officer with more than 18 years of supply experience.
While the main intent of the conference and tour was to ensure the ANA Ministry of Defense and IJC were informed of the challenges ahead for logistics, Godfrey said that’s just one piece of the puzzle in moving toward an autonomous Afghan military.
“I think it’s helping them get to independence,” Godfrey said. “It’s teaching them to be more independent and how to take care of themselves.”
Godrey’s ANA logistics counterpart, Muhammad, echoes this sentiment.
“In order to continue progressing and become self-sufficient and go forward, we need an efficient supply system, so if a soldier does not have boots or a uniform, we can use the supply system to fix that,” Khal added.
This work, The supply and demand of war: Logistics conference brings Afghan and coalition leaders together, by SFC Kevin Hartman, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.