- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The U.S. military is working around a Pakistani government border blockade by shipping small amounts of some supplies for the Afghan war through other countries, U.S. defense officials said.

The supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan are items that would have been sent through Pakistan if the border hadn’t been closed in protest of the U.S. bombing Nov. 26 that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

One official said selected items in very small amounts have been shifted to “other means of delivery” in the past few days. The official declined to be more specific.

Other officials said there is no immediate need to alter the flow of war supplies substantially because there is no near-term prospect of shortages.

The rerouted supplies, like all that go through Pakistan, are nonlethal items.

Closing the border is among a series of actions Pakistan took in response to the Nov. 26 incident, for which the U.S. has expressed regret but not apologized.

The Pakistanis refused an invitation to participate in a U.S. Central Command investigation of the killings, and they boycotted an international conference in Bonn this week on sustaining financial and political support for Afghanistan.

Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the border closing has had “no appreciable impact” on military operations in Afghanistan and that senior U.S. commanders believe they are well supplied for now.

Capt. Kirby said the top U.S. commander in Kabul, Marine Gen. John Allen, is “comfortable that he’s got what he needs right now.”

About 30 percent of the nonlethal supplies for U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan normally come via two routes from Pakistan - the Torkham border crossing in the northwest Khyber tribal area and at the Chaman gateway in the southwestern Baluchistan province, near the city of Quetta. Much of what is supplied is fuel.

About 40 percent of nonlethal supplies travel on a northern route that enters Afghanistan by rail through Uzbekistan, and about 30 percent are shipped by air.

Pakistan has not said how long it will keep the border closed.

After previous incidents, including an attack a year ago by a U.S. helicopter that killed two Pakistani soldiers posted on the border, the crossings were closed for 10 days to two weeks.

U.S. officials believe the closure will last longer this time.

Aware of its vulnerability to unpredictable Pakistani border closings, the U.S. military has developed alternative supply routes. In particular, it has expanded the capacity of the northern route since 2009.

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