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U.S. General Says Afghan Supply Route 'Growing'

A U.S. official says the military's Northern Distribution Network (NDN) for Afghanistan could contribute millions of dollars worth of money to the local economies along its route through Central Asia, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

U.S. Brigadier-General Michelle Johnson says there is "a few million dollars...worth of business to do" in the region as those countries work with the U.S. military to bring nonmilitary supplies into Afghanistan.

The money would go to local businesses in Central Asia that assist in the purchase and transport of the materiel as it makes its way to Afghanistan.

Speaking from her headquarters in Illinois, where she directs the U.S. Transportation Command's office of Strategy, Policy, Programs, and Logistics, Johnson told RFE/RL last week that the rate and quantity of goods transported to Afghanistan along the NDN is "growing," with some 200 large containers of goods arriving in Afghanistan each week and more than "2,500 containers on the network right now."

The containers go by rail from Latvia to Afghanistan via Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

The network was criticized this summer because the amount of goods being delivered was much lower than initially planned. EuroAsia reported in July that a total of only some 250 containers were delivered between June 5 and July 14.

Johnson said the NDN is such "a new concept" that U.S. officials are "hoping to get over 300 per week," a goal she called "very possible."