'Next to Antarctica'

By Zachary M. Peterson / November 23, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter told reporters today that the logistical hurdles presented by a war in Afghanistan are second only to those that would be faced on the icy continent at the South Pole.

“Getting into Afghanistan, which we need to do as quickly as we can possibly do it, is very difficult because, as I always say, next to Antarctica Afghanistan is probably the most incommodious place from the logistics point of view to be trying to fight a war,” Carter said at a press round table at the Pentagon. “It's landlocked and rugged and the road network is much, much thinner than in Iraq.”

Fielding valuable equipment like Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and their lighter-weight cousins, M-ATVs, to the landlocked central Asian country is a continual challenge, Carter noted.

“We can produce MRAPs faster than we can get them to the soldiers,” he said. “It's not our production capability that limits the rate at which soldiers will get MRAPs or M-ATVs in Afghanistan. It's the rate at which you can ship them in there, get the soldiers back, trained and what limits that? Do you have enough concrete slab to park the trucks on? Where do you buy concrete in Afghanistan? You don't, you get it in Pakistan.”