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Afghan War News > Logistics > Water and Afghanistan

Water Supply in Afghanistan

The requirements for water for the U.S. military in Afghanistan are tremendous. Essentially, the forces there depend on bottled water shipped in from other countries or bottled in Afghanistan and transported to the many Combat Outposts (COPs) and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) located throughout Afghanistan.

Water Bottling Plants in Afghanistan. There has been a shift in importing water from other countries (Pakistan, Uzbeckistan, and others) to letting contracts out to firms that will establish bottling plants next to large U.S. bases such as Bagram 1. or Kandahar. 2. These plants located in Afghanistan will reduce the transportation costs and time delays in shipping water in from other countries.

Bottled Water Plant in Afghanistan
Bottled Water Plant in Panjshir Province is toured by members of U.S. military.
(Photo by USAF 2LT Jason Smith, PRT PAO)

Technologies Available for Providing Water

There are some well-developed technologies for providing water to military forces. Many of these technologies use the reverse osmosis technique for producing fresh, potable water. Some of these are noted below.

Lightweight Water Purification System (LWPS). This unit fits in a Humvee and can produce up to 125 gallons of potable water an hour.

Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS). The TWPS is carried on a 7-ton truck, can be setup within 30 minutes, and can filter and clean almost 1,500 gallons of water an hour (which would be piped into large bladders).

Materials With Novel Transport Properties (MANTRA). Defense Sciences Office.
www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/DSO/Programs/Materials . . .

Afghan Bottled Water Plant is inspected U.S. military. A bottled water plant in Panjshir province, Afghanistan is inspected by a Chief Warrant officer of the 72nd Medical Detachment Veterinary Services. This is part of the process before the water can be approved for government procurement. Photo by USAF 2LT Jason Smith.

Papers and Publications about Water for Military Operations
(listed in chronological order)

DoD, Management of Land-Based Water Resources in Support of Contingency Operations, DoD Directeive Number 4705.01E, June 3, 2015.

Moore, James s., LTC(P), The U.S. Military's Reliance on Bottled Water During Military Operations, 17 June 2011, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA. This paper examines the U.S. military's increasing reliance on the use of bottled water in conducting military operations.

Lash, Fred C., Marines Take Steps to Avoid Costly Bottled Water Resupply", National Defense Magazine, May 2011.
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/ . . . WaterResupply.aspx

Quartermaster Corps, STP 10-92W, November 14, 2005.
http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/ . . ./STP_10-92W14 . . .

News Articles about Water Usage in Afghanistan

June 25, 2013. "Improved water purification technology reduces swap, logistics burden". DARPA.mil.

April 3, 2013. "As U.S. Departs, Afghan Business Dries Up". The Wall Street Journal. The Aria Water Plant, built in 2006 and located north of Kabul, will struggle to survive the U.S. troop withdrawal. Afghan general (General Mohammad Asif Kohi) extorts payments from the bottling company to allow it to ship water bottles to Bagram Air Force base.

May 21, 2012. "3d ESC Soldiers tour water bottling facility". Army.mil.

April 12, 2012. "Marines hydrate with purified ocean water". Marines.mil. Marines use a Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS) and Lightweight Water Purification System (LWPS) to turn ocean water into a sustainable, potable water source.

March 4, 2012. "Military Water Supply". Think Defense.co.uk.

October 2, 2011. "Chilled water cuts need for bottles in war zone". Marine Corps Times.

May 16, 2011. "Attack of the Warzone Water Bottles". State of the Planet Blog.

February 5, 2011. "Kandahar Springs Bottled Water". Strategy Page.

June 10, 2010. "Finding water in the heart of darkness: Afghanistan's ongoing water challenge". Earth Magazine.

April 20, 2010. "Camp Bastion Water Bottling Plant Saving Lives". Helmand Blog.

March 10, 2010. "The Fully Burdened Cost of Water". Center for a New American Security. " . . . when it comes to calculating the cost of any supply shipped to and within a combat theatre, it is rarely as cheap as it seems, and water is no exception".

February 26, 2010. "Casualty Costs of Fuel and Water Resupply Convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq". Army-Technology.com.

February 20, 2010. "The Bottled-Water Problem", National Journal. Water is one of the top three consumables that supply systems move to and within Afghanistan.

October 12, 2009. "Another Wanat Takeaway - Purify NOW". Defense Tech. Author wonders why the Army isn't fielding an individual / squad level water purification system.

May 11, 2009. "It's Time to Shelve Bottled Water". Polaris Institute. Canada politicians worry about the environmental impact of bottled water.

November 23, 2007. "Afghan bottled-water market tapped by foreign and domestic firms". Canada.com.

January 1, 2007. "State-of-the-art water plant opens in Afghanistan". ISAF. The Aria bottled water plant opens near Bagram Air Field (BAF).

July 24, 2004. "85,000 cases of water recalled in Afghanistan". Stars and Stripes. High level of contaminants (tritium) found in bottled water distributed by Coca-Cola Company by the brandname of Arwa.

2003. "Water is Life - and Quick Profit". The Disaster Tourist.




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1. For more info on bottling plants established near Bagram Air Field (BAF) see a post by the Air Force about the Panjshir Beverage Industry, Ltd bottling plant located in Panjshir province, Afghanistan.

2.  For more info on bottling plants established near Kandahar, Afghanistan see a post by Supreme Group Fuels - a contracting firm that provides bottled water to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) dated October 1, 2012.


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