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‘Largest Conundrum of Them All’: Air Force Still Unsure How to Keep Forces Supplied in Indo-Pacific

August 30, 2023

Michael Marrow

Breaking Defense

Crew chiefs from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas wait for take-off Mar. 12, 2018 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

By Michael Marrow, Breaking Defense / August 30, 2023

WASHINGTON — The challenge of resupplying forces across vast distances in the Indo-Pacific in the event of a fight is still vexing the Pentagon, with a key Air Force logistician saying that though there are several options to solve the problem, officials aren’t sure what path might be best.

“That is probably the largest conundrum of them all as we look at this problem set,” Air Force Col. James Hartle said Tuesday when discussing how to resupply troops in the Indo-Pacific during a virtual discussion hosted by the Mitchell Institute. “I don’t think we have a good answer yet.”

Figuring out how to keep supplies flowing in the Indo-Pacific will be a key task for planners seeking to head off a potential conflict with China over an invasion of Taiwan. Unlike Ukraine, which is sandwiched between NATO supply hubs, the island of Taiwan poses a different problem altogether, with wargame analysis showing that resupplying troops could be a leading issue for both US- and Chinese-aligned forces. 

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