Pakistan’s refusal to let NATO access its ports and roads into Afghanistan has cost the U.S. Defense Department more than $2.1 billion in extra transportation costs to move supplies and equipment in and out of the country.
The stunning revelation of the exorbitant cost comes as the Pentagon continues to negotiate with Islamabad to regain access to the supply routes.
“The good news is that there continue to be those discussions,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a June 29 briefing at the Pentagon. “There still are some tough issues to try to resolve but, you know, I think the important thing right now is that both sides in good faith keep working to see if we can resolve this.”
Pakistan closed the ground route to NATO supplies after a U.S. airstrike mistakenly killed 24 of its soldiers last November. The only other access to land-locked Afghanistan is through the Northern Distribution Network, a series of roads through Russia and Central Asia.
Panetta told the Senate Appropriations Committee in mid-June that the closure of the Pakistani routes was costing the U.S. military about an extra $100 million per month. These new costs were disclosed in a Pentagon budget document — called the omnibus reprogramming request — sent to Congress on June 29. In the document, which is traditionally sent to lawmakers at the end of each June, DoD asks for permission to shift already appropriated money within its own accounts.
The Army asked Congress to shift $1.7 billion due to “shortfalls that resulted from increased fuel costs and continued closure of the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication,” the document states.
The other, most expensive, transport option is to airlift supplies and equipment into Afghanistan.
The Air Force has requested the transfer of $369.2 million of airlift, “partially due to the closure of the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication and the need for additional theater express support,” the document states.
This increased airlift requirement in Afghanistan has taken its toll on the Boeing C-17. The Pentagon has asked Congress to shift $136.9 million to repair 21 C-17 engines, “due to increased wear and accelerated parts damage,” the document states.
The funding transfer request for supply transport is only part of the $7.9 billion reprogramming action.
The Air Force also requested:
$1.5 billion to cover the cost of increased fuel.
$29.7 million to begin standing up Air National Guard UAV squadrons in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas and Michigan.
Other funds eyed for transfer were garnered from converting existing contracts to fixed-price and getting better deals from should-cost analysis. The Air Force also requested the removal of $109.7 million from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter effort due to the Pentagon’s restructure of the program earlier this year.
The Army’s $1.7 billion in additional funding requests reflect operations in Africa, logistics in Afghanistan, and the highly touted Capability Set 13, which is being deployed to three brigade combat teams (BCTs) in October. Until now, there were no dollar figures available associated with the capability sets, which are part of the Army’s No. 1 priority to develop and field its new Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) battlefield network.
The document also included:
$18.2 million for USSOCOM logistical support in its mission “to disarm the Lord’s Resistance Army” in Central Africa.
$140 million to field Capability Set 13 to three BCTs.
$59.4 million to install structural upgrades to Humvees to integrate Capability Set 13 to the first three brigade combat teams scheduled for fielding in fiscal 2013. The Army had repeatedly said that Humvees would not be part of the networking plan.
$28.7 million “to procure command and control components within the Tactical Operations Centers” for Capability Set 13.
$51.3 million for Capability Set 13 integration onto five variants of MRAPs, Humvees and Strykers.
Conversely, the backbone of Capability Set 13, the WIN-T communications network, is losing $334.6 million due to efficiencies gained by including it in the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation program. The Army says that the reduction in funding will not affect its planned fielding of eight BCTs in fiscal 2013, and six more in 2014.
There is also $48.4 million available after changes were made to the Humvee Competitive RECAP Expanded Capacity Vehicles program. “After reevaluating Army requirements, the Army intends to use the $20.0 million associated with the Armored HMMWV survivability enhancements for automotive enhancements on the HMMWVs. The remaining $28.4 million is excess to the program.”
$40.7 million is being taken from the Stryker program “due to contract savings ... resulting from the Army combining related vehicles buys.”
The requests for an overall increase of $790 million for the Department of the Navy include:
$220 million to repair the fire-damaged submarine Miami, even though the investigation is nowhere near complete and cost estimates are still being generated. No public announcement has been made about a final decision to repair the ship, put it to another use or scrap it.
An additional $90.6 million for the DDG 1000 destroyer program due to increased labor and overhead costs on contracts from 2007 and ’08.
A $30 million reduction for positive labor rates and material performance on the submarine Mississippi, and a $25 million reduction for positive labor rate and material performance trends on the submarine Minnesota.
$16 million for a new-start effort to buy Griffin missiles and launchers to be installed on five Navy patrol boats in Bahrain. This U.S. Central Command “fast lane” requirement will need another $30 million over the next two years.
$8 million for 215 all-up-round glide weapons for a weaponized RQ-7B Shadow UAV. It is needed by Marines in Afghanistan, since “no unmanned system provides the time-sensitive targeting combination of persistence, sensor and weapon necessary to rapidly engage fleeting targets in order to prevent enemy activity such as IED emplacement.”
A decrease of $2.1 million based on a reduction in the number of EA-18G Growler aircraft being purchased and contract savings on the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet program.
A reduction of $25 million based on lower-cost negotiations for V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft.
Staff writers Kate Brannen, Zachary Fryer-Biggs, Christopher P. Cavas and Paul McLeary contributed to this report.