Roads to Afghanistan

Think you have a tough logistics job? Imagine running a supply chain to a landlocked, mountainous country where people keep trying to blow up your personnel and cargo.

Major Gen. James L. Hodge, commanding general of the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, said supplying and replenishing armed forces in Afghanistan requires high-tech, low-tech and flexibility.

RFID, widely employed by the military in other locations, is of limited use on the supply line through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Hodge said the military augments the technology with people on the ground, including more than 200 local workers who observe and replrt locations of containers and other equipment on the seven- or eight-day transit.

The military also is developing northerly supply routes through Latvia's Port of Riga and overland through Russia, and over the Caucaus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas. These routes will carry non-military shipments such as construction materials because the intermediate countries haven't okayed military shipments.

Hodge spoke Monday at the annual meeting of the United Seamen's Service, which since World War II has provided help for U.S. seafarers, many of whom serve on ships carrying military cargo. Edward Morgan, president of USS, said last year was a busy one. He said USS centers around the world logged 282,000 sefarer visits, provided 696,113 social services of various kinds, and that seafarers used the centers to mail 6,350 letters and for 53,560 telecommunications such as international phone calls, faxes and Internet log-ons.

Each fall the USS sponsors the Admiral of the Ocean Seas Awards at a fund-raising dinner in New York. Recipients of this year's awards will be Ron Widdows, CEO of APL Ltd., and Donald Kurz, CEO of Keystone Shipping. A special AOTOS award also will be presented to the Coast Guard. The awards dinner will be November 13.

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