The ability of U.S.-led forces to secure and protect the population of Afghanistan is the most pressing question we face in the next 18 months in Central Asia. But folks, the question of how we continue to resupply those U.S.-led forces isn't much further behind. Maintaining a brigade in Afghanistan is expensive -- twice as expensive as maintaining a brigade in Iraq.
MOSCOW, Feb. 19 -- The Kyrgyzstan parliament voted Thursday to close a U.S. air base that the Pentagon had hoped to use to expand NATO operations in Afghanistan and reduce the need to ship supplies through a dangerous corridor in Pakistan. But U.S. officials said they had not given up hope on a deal to keep the base open.
The vote to close Manas Air Base comes as the Obama administration has authorized an additional 17,000 troops to deploy to Afghanistan and has been scrambling to find alternatives to the base or persuade Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to reconsider.
I am hearing different things about the base in Manas. On the one hand, I hear negotiations continue. On the other hand, I also hear that President Bakiyev has overplayed his hand and thought the market could bear a greater price than it actually could. (Those hell dogs Bakiyev throws in to sweeten the deal apparently aren't worth it.) I will be closely following the machinations surrounding the way in which the U.S. secures bases to resupply its troops in Afghanistan -- and also the relative security of the supply lines running through Pakistan. I think this must be one of those issues giving CENTCOM planners fits right now. And boy, it sure would suck to be the incoming DAS-D for Central Asia...