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Southern Distribution Network [SDN]

The US Army 1st Theater Sustainment Command mission was to synchronize the movement and responsible drawdown of all equipment and personnel in and out of Afghanistan along ground lines of communication through Pakistan along the Southern Distribution Network, or the central Asian states along the Northern Distribution Network. In addition, the 1st TSC provides command and control for logistics units in theater, provides sustainment support to forces operating in theater, and assists with base closure and transfer. s. As a global sustainment provider, the 1st TSC supplies food, fuel, water, transportation, ammunition, building materials and repair parts. Additionally, the 1st TSC manages the ports, flights, and customs points needed to keep people and equipment moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition to geography and weather, Afghanistan's transportation infrastructure poses a greater challenge and limits freedom of movement, especially for logistical convoys. The U.S. must also rely on surrounding countries for movement of equipment in to and out of the region. Also, Afghanistan lacks a staging base like Iraq had in neighboring Kuwait. The forces in Afghanistan do not need the volume of equipment that was absorbed by the Iraq army, and the fact that our coalition forces are also drawing down with us are just a handful of the unique challenges the Army faces in Afghanistan. Lastly, Afghanistan is a land-locked country with no seaport to facilitate transportation of materiel.

In September 2010 Pakistan shut down the route through the Khyber Pass to Kabul for 11 days after two Pakistani soldiers were killed. The government said it was keeping the key Torkham border crossing closed indefinitely due to public anger over a September 30 NATO air strike from Afghanistan that killed at least two Pakistani soldiers. On October 4, some 60 trucks were destroyed in northern Pakistan. That was just days after Islamabad shut down NATO's supply route. Yet another spectacular attack hit 40 trucks parked in a terminal near Quetta, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan on October 6. That strike targeted the only supply route through Pakistan that Islamabad has left open, the Chaman border crossing leading to Kandahar.

By October 8 some 150 trucks carrying supplies for NATO remained stranded at the Torkham border crossing while non-NATO traffic continues to cross. A total of 6,500 vehicles carrying supplies for NATO were backed up across Pakistan along the 1,500 kilometer route from the port of Karachi to the Khyber Pass.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued an apology to Pakistan on 03 July 2012 for the NATO air attack on Pakistani troops, which resulted in the death of 24 Pakistani servicemen on 26 November 2011. In return, the Pakistani authorities confirmed that they will be reopening the Southern Distribution Network (SDN), which was the NATOs primary supply line to Afghanistan prior to its closure in 2011. The unconditional American apology ended a seven month long diplomatic standoff between the Pakistanis and the Americans, which resulted in the significant deterioration of military relations between the two sides.

Leon Panetta, the United States Secretary of Defence had commented that the closure of the SDN was costing the NATO as much as $100 million every month, due to the increase in freight and transportation expenses.



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