Tag Archives: The Hill

Breaking news: Afghan plan incoherent!

Our entire policy in Afghanistan has been inconsistent since the first troops were relieved.  Each replacement unit has attempted to recreate established plans and objectives to satisfy what they thought was the “right” way.  For starters, sample here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, herehereherehere, and here.  

“The last guy’s great idea wasn’t as good as my new great idea.”  That’s been the only consistent policy every year for the past 11 years.  As other’s have said, “We haven’t been in Afghanistan for 11 years, we’ve just completed 11 one-year deployments.”

So, over the coming years, expect to see a plethora of news articles, like the Wall Street Journal’s “Parting Gift for Afghans: A Military McMansion,” exposing waste in the wasteland of Afghanistan (check-out Firewood grows on trees if you think the “Afghan-right” solution is a panacea).

Whenever the killing of terrorists in Afghanistan was abandoned as the primary (and only objective), the waste began.  Make no mistake, any so-called “investment” in Afghanistan is a waste.  Building any modern security force, government, or infrastructure is doomed to failure for all of the reasons stated in the WSJ article–and then some.

But the ignorance of those commenting on the article is disarming.  While the overall total spent on the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is significantly higher, thinking the +/-$12 Billion spent on facilities would somehow alleviate our domestic spending problem is insane. 

REALITY  CHECK:  If we never spent a dime on infrastructure for the ANSF, it would pay-off 25.9 HOURS’ worth of the 2012 year-to-date U.S. budget deficit ($845 Billion as reported by The Hill)!

While we should leave Afghanistan lock, stock, and barrel (except for perhaps some special forces), leaving is hardly a panacea for our spending problem and it will hardly be a cure for the politically-driven agenda that has become the United States’ Afghanistan policy.

Well, at least we’ll get an “A” for effort.  That and another $16 Trillion will pay-off our spending problem.

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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.’