Tag Archives: Catch-22

Hamid Karzai IS crazy. . . maybe

Last Summer, President Hamid Karzai stated, “We are a rich country.”

Perhaps HamKar was thinking of the vast mineral reserves in Afghanistan.

He certainly wasn’t considering the massive costs such as extraction, transportation, corruption, extortion, and instability that cut into the profit motive.

But he is now singing a slightly different tune and even starting to sound much like MG Fuller, fired for stating some similar things (admittedly in a slightly different context).  As reported by the USA Today, the President of Afghanistan stated, “Together we have spent blood and treasure in fighting terrorism.  Your continued solidarity, your commitment and support will be crucial so that we can consolidate our gains and continue to address the challenges that remain.”

HamKar went on to state, “We will need your steadfast support for at least another decade.”  The USA Today reported that “Afghanistan estimates it will need outside contributions of roughly $10 billion in 2015 and onward.”

So he has demonstrated an ability to adapt and belly-up to the gravy train.  Perhaps HamKar isn’t crazy after all–but then, who is qualified to judge?

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Firewood grows on trees

From the “American’s provide the best entertainment” stack, comes this latest story from Afghanistan.  Inside an email chain researching the Afghan National Army’s supply system:

Here is something interesting.  So today I tried to fly two boxes of firewood out to a [location] for an ANA company that is displaced.  I was told not to do that because the ANA and AUP have a contract / agreement to obtain firewood on the economy locally.  Someone has to answer this riddle. . . we’ll find it.

The author of the email probably didn’t think supplying firewood by helicopter was “interesting.”  Admittedly, it is much more difficult to believe that the ANA could provide themselves firewood by any means than to believe that the Americans would more than double the embodied energy in firewood by their choice of delivery method.

This is reminiscent of some other, equally inconceivable, ideas:

But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg.  Of course, I don’t make the profit.  The syndicate makes the profit.  And everybody has a share.

This, of course, is from Joseph Heller’s, “Catch-22.”  Milo Minderbinder is starting to look pretty sane and Yossarian is indeed crazy.

The dangerous combination of online research, gratuitous assumption, and military math yields the following:

  1. Helicopters typically fly in pairs.  Assuming each carries a cord of firewood with an average of 20,000,000 Btu’s yields a delivery of 40 million Btu’s per trip.
  2. Assuming a round trip is 100 miles and each helicopter burns 1.5 gallons of JP8 fuel per mile, 300 gallons is required per trip.
  3. JP8 delivers 141,500 Btu’s/gallon.  At 300 gallons per delivery, 42.5 million Btu’s are consumed.

Result:  The U.S. is burns a cord of wood to deliver a cord of wood–that’s why we call helicopters “choppers” (Thank you, EP).

The Hill reported that the U.S. was paying $400 per gallon of fuel in Afghanistan.  This makes the delivery fee for the two cords $120,000.  That’s how you spend over $5 Billion per month. . . since you had to ‘axe.’