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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.
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.
Sequestrian Budget Cuts
The Pentagon is working with defense industry CEOs to tell Congress it must take immediate action to avoid automatic budget cuts, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a June 29 briefing.