Chain of Thought

What next--Taliban Truck Drivers?

Any supply chain manager will tell you it usually pays to source locally. That policy hasn't worked so well, however, for the U.S. Military in sourcing transportation to supply our troops in Afghanistan with food, fuel and weapons. According to a Washington Post report, we U.S. taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the Taliban by choosing transportation providers based in Afghanistan. This was part of a $2.16 billion transportation contract. Turns out, four of the eight prime contractors were funneling support to the enemy. There was also some profiteering, money laundering and kickbacks to local police and government officials happening on the side.

Apparently this kind of thing has been happening for quite a while. The Washington Post quotes Rep. John Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, who last summer chaired a House Oversight Committee that charged that the military was supporting a vast protection racket to ensure safe passage of U.S. truck convoys moving across Afghanistan.

It sounds like the Taliban have been watching old episodes of the Untouchables. But where's our Elliott Ness? Our law makers in Washington are more like the Keystone Cops, scrambling around frantically looking for a way to keep the U.S. government funded. One faction of these Cops wants higher taxes, the other wants to cut spending. But none of them seems to want to face the fact that a chunk of the taxes we're already spending are being used against us.

The report concludes that interim steps have been taken to improve oversight and accountability “within the murky web of companies and individuals involved in the shipment of more than 70 percent of all U.S. military food, fuel, weapons and construction material within Afghanistan.”

I hope whoever is taking those interim steps is also seeking better logistics intelligence. They should be benchmarking private sector logistics operations. At the very least they should be taking a few seminars. Here are a couple I just learned about in the latest batch of press releases to hit my e-mail:

Contracting for Transportation & Logistics Services, presented by Raymond A. Selvaggio, Esq. In this intensive program on both the practical and legal aspects of contracting for logistics services and supply chain solutions, attendees will learn the “do's” and “don'ts” of contracting. Plus attendees will have a unique opportunity to discuss their specific contracting problems and issues with a knowledgeable transportation attorney.

Maybe the geniuses who used U.S. logistics funding to support our enemies could ask the instructor how to limit the Taliban's hours of service.

Then there's “Transportation, Logistics and the Law,” based on the text by William (“Bill”) Augello, and presented by Brent Wm. Primus, Esq. This one-day course will provide a basic working knowledge of the laws and regulations affecting the supply chain and governing the relationships between the parties—shippers, carriers, and intermediaries. Topics include the critical issues which transportation professionals and attorneys are confronted with in their day-to-day activities: vicarious liability for highway accidents and deaths, liability for freight charges and exposure to double payment and elimination of cargo liability insurance.

I wonder if Brent could add a section on liability for lost American lives if any of these chowderheads who indirectly hired enemy subcontractors follows up on my referral for remedial logistics education.

These are great learning opportunities for anybody involved in logistics, and I recommend you sit in on them if you can. They're being offered by the Transportation & Logistics Council this September (in Camden, N.J.), October (in Elmhurst, Ill.) and November (in Ft. Worth, Tex.).

If those afore-mentioned chowderheads are reading this, or if they could find someone to read it to them, I recommend you attend all three sites—just to make sure the logistics intelligence sinks in. Put it on my tab. Of course that goes without saying, doesn't it?

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