Shifting into “R”

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YURI KOZYREV / NOOR FOR TIME

Civilian contractors work to drain a large puddle following a January rain at Bagram air base.

For the past 11 years, logisticians have had their hands full in Afghanistan. For one, the country is land locked and far from a seaport. The terrain, especially in the strategically important east, is covered with mountains; and the country’s road network is much less advanced than the one in Iraq. Over the years, the Air Force and Army airdropped supplies on remote bases, from large parts for military vehicles parachuted out of airplanes to “Speedballs,” body bags filled with water and ammunition, that could be tossed out of a helicopter to resupply troops under fire.

For most of the past decade, the logistical focus has been on getting equipment out to troops fighting in remote areas. “Doctrine states when you’re starting an operation, it’s always a push,” says Major Rosendo Pagan, executive officer of the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. But with less than 23 months before the vast majority of U.S. troops are out of Afghanistan, logisticians have focused much of their efforts on what Pagan calls “the pull phase”: bringing equipment back from far-flung outposts.

Full dispatch here.

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