Of all cargo that flows into Afghanistan, about half (50%) transits Pakistan. There are two main border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Chaman gate and Torkham gate.
About 30 percent of all cargo flows into Afghanistan via the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and transits Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. There are two major routes on the NDN, one through Russia and the other through the Caucasus. The NDN is used to bring commercial-type cargo (sustainment items like food and spare parts) to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
The NDN does not replace routes through Pakistan, but provides additional transportation options for General Mattis and General Petraeus, and helps prevent any specific route from becoming a single point-of-failure for Operation Enduring Freedom logistics.
The remaining 20 percent of cargo is brought into Afghanistan by air. Most of this cargo is sensitive, which includes such things as weapons, ammunition and critical equipment.
Source: Department of Defense
Four Afghan civilians died and three others were wounded in a NATO-led operation on Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Thursday.
The incident took place in the Andar district of Ghazni province. ISAF forces met with village elders to apologize for their actions and embarked on an investigation.
Pakistan has banned NATO supply convoys from entering Afghanistan after fighting between NATO troops and militants led to the killing of three Pakistani soldiers, according to a military official from the NATO-led command in Afghanistan.
The troops were killed when three NATO helicopters crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistani airspace early Thursday and attacked a military outpost, Pakistani security officials said. Three troops were wounded as well, the officials said.
Opium production has dropped significantly in Afghanistan, in large part because of a plant infection in the country's war-torn south, a U.N. report said on Thursday.
"This is good news but there is no room for false optimism; the market may again become lucrative for poppy-crop growers so we have to monitor the situation closely," said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Maylanie Shorter sleeps with a T-shirt tucked in her pillowcase. It carries the scent of her father's cologne while he's on patrol in Afghanistan.
Her younger sister, Ariana, sleeps with her Daddy Doll - a stuffed soldier that displays a photo of her father across its face.
At 14 and 10, the two girls try to maintain normalcy. They're active in school, they help with dinner, they rally around their mother. And they show no mercy for Pops over the Silver Star he earned by saving several comrades whose armored Humvee was shredded by a roadside bomb. They tease him about a photo of the burned-out vehicle. "How did you take this picture? Weren't you supposed to go get them and help?" Ariana says.
By Ken Ballen, Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty, Special to CNN
Editor's note: CNN National Security analyst Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty are members of the staff of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that looks for solutions across the political spectrum. Ken Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonprofit institute that researches attitudes toward extremism.
For the United States there are few more strategically important places today than the tribal region of Pakistan, headquarters of al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, and also home to a syndicate of other militant jihadist groups from across Asia.
It is where Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a car bomb in Times Square in May, was trained. So was Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American who plotted to explode bombs on Manhattan's subways in 2009. It is also the source of a good deal of the violence that is racking neighboring Afghanistan.
Yet this critical region is one of the most opaque places in the world; international journalists and aid organizations rarely venture there, there's little open dialogue because, until last year, most political parties were banned from operating there. As a result, the views of its inhabitants have largely been a mystery.
A suicide car bomber targeting NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan killed two civilians and wounded 12 others Thursday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.
ISAF said the insurgent was also killed in the attack, which took place in the Daman district of Kandahar province, outside Kandahar city.
The insurgent, driving a black sedan, targeted a patrol. Zalmal Ayoobi, the Kandahar provincial governor's spokesman, said all of the victims were civilians, and three were children.
The blast damaged buildings and left a "significant crater in the highway," ISAF said.
The Kandahar region has a strong militant presence and has long been the scene of many Taliban attacks and clashes between coalition and Afghan troops and insurgents.
ISAF also reported the deaths of two troops in attacks in southern Afghanistan Thursday.
The potential plot against Europe was one factor contributing to the uptick this month in missile strikes by unmanned drones against terrorist targets in Pakistan, according to a U.S. official.
"We would be remiss not to try to take action to thwart what might be under way in Europe," said the official.
The official emphasized that the potential plot was not the sole factor.
U.S. officials say they are taking advantage of what they call "precise intelligence."
Most of the drone attacks this year have been focused on North Waziristan, a mountainous area bordering Afghanistan where Pakistani security forces have little control. That has continued to be the pattern this month. FULL POST
German citizen of Afghan descent was the source of much of the information on a potential "Mumbai-style" terror plot in Europe, a German counterterrorism official said Wednesday.
The man, Ahmed Sidiqi, was detained in Kabul in July and transferred to U.S. custody where he has "revealed details about the terror plot," said the official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
The man and several other Germans traveled from Hamburg to the Afghan-Pakistan border area in 2009, where he joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist group allied with al Qaeda, German intelligence officials said.
Sidiqi, once captured, "started to talk a lot," and detailed a "Mumbai-style" attack in Europe, the German official said.