Logistics: Pounding Sand


January 24, 2012: Canada pulled the last of its troops out of Afghanistan six months ago and is sending most of its equipment home via shipping containers, trucked to the Pakistani port of Karachi and then via ship to Canada. So far, 182 containers have arrived. But 5.5 percent of those containers, that were supposed to contain tools, tent and tires, were found instead loaded with sand and rocks. Somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan the seals were broken, the containers looted, and then the seals replaced with convincing facsimiles. There was no risk of weapons or ammunition being stolen as that gear was flown out. At total of 670 containers are being shipped by sea and most of those are still in Afghanistan.

Such thefts in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not unusual, despite many precautions taken. Cargo theft is an ancient profession in this part of the world. Afghanistan was once part of the Silk Road (the trade route between the Middle East and China). The caravans had to pay a lot of attention to security. In Afghanistan, stealing from these caravans was considered great and lucrative, if a very dangerous, sport. Some things never change.



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