Created: 4/1/1963

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title: tonnage through tibet

and avia waring volume: 7 issue: spring year:



Al on des cniorcat, operational, doctrinal, and ihcoreiical aspects ol Intelligence.

All suiemenis of fsci. opinionnalysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are ibose of

ihe authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of ihe Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations

A methodology for assessing ^highway logistics applied in the Chinese Communist attack on India.

IS 4


TONNAGE THROUGH TIBET a. ?hflip Vetterling and Avis Waring

A more than routine Interest has recently been focused on problems of highway logistics by the Communist Chinese threat along the northeastern border of India, Theof this threat depends In large part on the Chinese ability to move military supplies by road from railheads deep in China to the areas of conflict; air transport, tbe onlyis at present not available to the Chinese in significant capacity. It was therefore possible to make an estimate of the threat. In terms of the size of the military forces that could be supplied, by computing the capacity of the roads, setting this against the supply requirements of the forces actually in Tibet, and so determining what excess capacity was available to support additional troops in operations against India. Two other possibly limiting factors had also to benumber of trucks needed to move the supplies, and the amount of petroleum required to fuel the trucks. The methodology for these calculations, described in the following pages, can be used to estimate the size offorce that can be supported in other campaignson supply by road.

Roods to the World's Roof

The Chinese forces at the front lines on the Indian border were at the end of roads thatiles over high and rugged terrain. The three main access routes to Tibet are indicated on the accompanying map. The mostof these is the Tsinghal-Tibet highway running south from Golmo to Lhasa. Oolmo can be reached by road either from the railhead In the vicinity of Hsia-tung on the trans-Sinkiang railroad or from that at Hsl-ning west of Lan-chou.

The major route for the movement of supplies appeared toformer, from the Hsli-tung area southwardforiles to An-toiles toaverage elevation of this road from Oolmo on isfeet. Troops along the western border of theFrontier Agency, those in tbe Chumbi Valleyand those located as far west as tho southern partwere supplied by this route. *- "'*

Tbe other two routes, supplying the extreme flanks, are about equal In Importance to each other. The Szechwan-Tfbet highway, running west from the railhead at Ch'eng-tu ln Sxechwan Province, served the troops In the Ch'ang-tu area and the eastern border of NEFA, It goes on from there tootal distance from Ch'eng-tu ofiles, over extremely rugged terrain ranging0 feet ln elevation. The third route runs from the railhead In the Urumchi area In northwestern China southwest to Kashgar. then southeast to the Ladakh area. From Urumchi to Rudog It covers aboutiles at elevations rangingeet in the northern portions to00 feet In the south.

The combined practical forward capacity of these access routes under ideal conditions was figuredhort tons pertons delivered to Lhasa via Go Loo on the Tslnghal-Tibetons delivered to Ch'ang-tu from Sxechwan for the eastern flank,ons delivered over the Kashgar-Rudog road for tlie Ladakh front. These main access routes are supplemented by roads leading forward to the frontier and subsidiary east-west and north-south routesotal ofiles.


By thes policy makers as well as transportation intelligence specialists had become greatly concerned about the wide divergence in estimates of the capacities of identical transportation routes and facilities published In supposedly. and UK intelligence reports. These estimates were Important to policy makersasis for determining the

ge Through Tiber

[xtxe of enemy forces that could be deployed and supported In rartous areas of the worldommonof the factors which entered into the calculation of the capacities of the various forms of transportation, however. It had been impossible for the specialists who made the estimates to arrive at reasonably uniform conclusions. The disparities confused and irritated tbe policy makers.

onsequence, the Subcommittee on TransportationEconomic Intelligence Committee, composed ofspecialists of the TJ.S. community,erieswhich led to the formulation of methodologies forthe capabilities of railroads, roads, ports, and These were then sent to the

'ts views. After mucnconsuiiaTkTri

and exchange of correspondence, working-level agreement on the method for computing railroad capacity was reached In IBM and on that for computing road capacityhese methods were subsequently approved by the logisticswho provide intelligence support for SHAPE and are now widely used by the intelligence components of NATO

In. government the task of estimating roadfor intelligence purposes Is performed primarily by thecomponents of tbe Department of Defense. The estimateons as the capacity of the major supply routes into Tibet was made originally by DOD analysts by these now standard methods and accepted by otherof the Intelligence community. The process Is described In brief below.

One begins with the ideal capacityoadiven type of surface ln perfect condition and good weather, straight, and without traffic hindrances. On pavedon trucks

'etailed explanation of those methodologies, see Department of the Amy Field Manual tu. TransportationM1.

Tonnoge Through Tibtf

are assumed to move atiles per houreet apart to allow for the "concertina" (compression wave) actionIn any continuous truck convoy operation On un-pavcd roads the dust hazard requires increased spacing and decreasedimple calculation gives the number of trucks that can be moved in both directionshour period, considering only the speed. Interval between vehicles, and type of surface.^. ^ ^

This basic capacity is then reduced to obtain what is known as operational capacity, which makes allowance for theimposed by driver in efficiency, vehicle casualties,maintenance enroute, and unforeseen operationalThese contingencies are estimated to reduce the basic capacity byractical capacity is obtained by applying further reduction factors to the operationalto take into account the following:

Less than ideal road characteristics;

Turning and crossing operations, including delays caused by convoys entering and leaving the highway and the movement across the highway of other essential traffic, civilian and military;

Operational phasing, tacluding the constraints created by administrative and civilian vehicles, stops for meals,driver rest periods, and the reduced efficiency of night operations.

The resulting practical capacity Is expressed in vehicles per day traveling In both directions. Multiplication by the net load per truck. In thisons, gives the dally tonnage in both directions, and half of this is the practical forwardof the road in tons per day.

The value of the several reduction factors has been derived from engineering data on highway transportation andtaking into account vehicle performance and roadconstruction, and maintenance. Where precise data were not available on certain types of roods, the experience of highway transport specialists and engineers in truck convoy operations was consulted in assigning values.

In formula form the calculation looks like this:


n D

a=baslc capacity (TCblclci per day)

B- operational rapacity (vehicles

per day) Ci practical capacity 'vehicles

perractical capacity (toes per


E-practical forward capacity (tons per day)

a =width reductionhoulder width reduction

c=eorvea and gradienturfsce deterioration and

maintenance factor cefaclor for turningperational phasing factor r. load per truck In tons

to Tibet

The derivation of the capacity of the Tslnghal-Tlbet and Szechwan-Tlbet highways will illustrate the application of this methodology. The surface of the Tsinghai-Tlbet highway from Golmo to Lhasa Is given as crushed rock and gravel with some earth sections. The basic capacity ofurfacend the operationalon trucks per day. The reduction factors are as follows:



Surface width

Shoulderurves and gradient Surface condition Turning andmovements Operational phasing Load per truck


Lesseetercent Fair with moist subsoil . 05



S tons

practical capacity is3 vehicles, carrying, at an average loadons per day in both directions. Halving thisracUcal forward capacityons, which may be roundedons per day.

The surface of the Szech wan-Tibet highway from Ch'eng-tu to Lhasa via Ch'ang-tu is given as crushed rock, gravel, and nod, this also having an operational capacityehicles per day. But the reduction for surface width and condition is greater:



awidthIS toeetU

bwidth LeasS

aand gradient

dconditionair to poor, with motst

subsoil -

tand OSS

. Operational phasing 05


The practical capacity hereehiclesons perons forward, roundedons per day. The capacity of tbe third route, that from Urumchi. as limited by the mountainous Kashgar-Rudog stretch, was estimated to be theons, as the Szechwan-Tibet highway.

The total capacity of the three access routes would thusons per day under ideal climatic conditions. On some portions of the roads in Tibet, however, traffic is seasonally stopped by snow, floods, andetailed study of weather conditions undertaken by DOD analysts led to the conclusion that they would reduce this capacity, on an average throughout the year, by an additionalercent. The net capacity of the access routes thusons daily-It should be emphasized that the capacity estimate thus derived is for sustained deliveries over st leastays. The capacityhort-term or "crash" movement is much higher, mainly because allowances are not made forand repair of the roads, under the assumption that they would be permitted to deteriorate ln order to avoidof Immediate supply operations How longrash movement could be sustained depends on the type of road surface. It was estimated that on the three major access

roads to Tibet four or five tunes the sustained capacity could be forced through, but only for five days on the Tsinghai-Tibet highway and only for two on the other roads Then the roads would not be usable for through truck convoysrepaired.

Supply Requirements

The daily resupply requirement for troops in combat and garrison units Is the average daily tonnage required to replace expenditures over an extended period. DOD analysts, bythe normal requirements for the individual units known to be In Tibet, arrivedotal requirement ofhort tons per day for thehinese troops fighting there duringhey estimated, for example, that some of the units were orgardzed Intodivisions (light) atercenttrength,0 men. In general,nit Is considered to4 tons of supplies daily during average combat conditions Military experts, however, after studying the type of fighting on the Indian border, reduced the estimate of ammunition used20 tons per division. This made theresupply requirement in tons the following:

rUUons) a*

Class li and lv (Oentral Supplies) 2iJ>

Clsss IH (Petroleum ProdueUO .. 3J



On the average, however, tbe requirements for the forces in Tibet were lower per man than implied in this example. Other troops organized in independent infantry regiments had an estimated requirement for6 tons per regiment, and border defense regiments required even less. Some troops In garrison were estimated to be using no ammunition.

It is possible that the Chinese had stockpiled considerable amounts of supplies during the summer in anticipation of their fall offensive against India, and the amount transported

Through Tiber

to Tibet during November could therefore have been

erably lessons per day. If. however, the

had continued at that level for any length of time, the

quirement for road transport would have eventually

the estimated

Vehicle and Fuel Requirement!

pacity of road? exists for estimating the number of trucks needed to deliver the required supplies nor for computing the uel requirements of the trucks. Of the several methods used In making such estimates, one which appears to give uniformly good results is described below.'

In order to allow for fuel consumption along the supply route, the route la divided into stages of varying lengthto the type of road and terrain, normallyiles each, that can be covered In one day. Fuelfor the round trip over each stage Is estimated toercent of the toad carried over each, which gives for anloadhort tons about one galloniles.1

The requirement for trucks and fuel to operate the supply route is then calculated as follows:

The number of loaded trucks on each stage is obtained by dividing the tonnage delivered over it byhe average load, and this figure is doubled to include the numberempty. The sum of these for all the stages Is the number of trucks on the road at any given moment.

A figure Is added for trucks loading at the start andat the end of the road.

Twenty percent la added for trucks temporarily off the road or under repair and for other vehicles in convoy.

The delivered tonnage Is subtracted from the beginning tonnage to determine the amount of gasoline used en route.*

An example of the fuel and tonnage calculationile trip follows:.

eginning of stageeginning of stageeginning ofmomnt of supplies

delist red at end of

stageons of gasoline used

en route.

of supplies and gasoline

ons0 -



ons) '

method, used by DOD analysts, which gives approximately the same result* is toeparate calculationhe amount of gasoline used to haul thehe amount of gasoline used to haul the gasoline for tbe supplyhe amount of gasoline used to haul the gasoline used. and so on until the figure becomes Insignificant. When the total amount of gasoline required has been obtained. It Is added to the tonnage of supplies, and the computation lor the number of trucks required Is completed.

moreew stages are lavoired. use of the following rormola win greatly facilitate the computation of the tonnage delivered at the end of the final stage.

mount of supplies delivered at end of the nth stage, nnumber of stages,

T-amount of supplies and gasoline loaded at begtn-nlng of stageercent decrease In load during each stage The amount of gasoline required for the round tnp of all trucks usedtages


gasoline required to hauliles was calculated to be nearly equal to the tonnage delivered. The delivery to the troops olhort tons of supplies dailyequiredhort tons of motor fuel dailyruck park ofehicles.

It was estimated, however, that the total availability ofproducts ln Communist China2 wasillion short tons,illion of which consisted ofgasoline. The daily requirement forons for the Tibetan front, projected as an annual requirement ofons, would thus be only slightly moref the motor fuel availableefineries are located near two of the major access routes: those at Leng-hu, Yu-men, and Lan-chou, not far from the central route to Lhasa, were undoubtedly the source of the gasoline used on that route, and the Tu-shan-tzu refinery near the Karamai oil field In Sinkiang was probably the major source of supply for that used on the route to Ladakh. Thus it appeared that the fuel requirements for the Tibetan fighting were tolerable and the sources of supply convenient Undoubtedly specialallocations were necessary, however, with resultingin other sectors of the economy.

It was estimated that at the end2 the military and civilian truck parks of Communist China each consisted ofrucks in operating condition. Tbe size of the civilian truck park is believed to have been reduced fromyears because truck production nearly ceased12 and difficulties were experienced in producing orspare parts. Present production and imports are about sufficient, however, to maintain the combined park atevel. In the military regions of Tibet, Lan-chou, and Sinkiang there were more military trucks available in2 than theequired to transport military supplies and gasoline. In addition several thousand civilian trucks which are normally employed for economicin the provinces of Kansu, Sinkiang, and Tsinghai could have been diverted quickly to the military supply lines if needed.

Leeway for Expanded Operations

The table on the following page was compiled by using the methodologies described above; others broke the daily supply requirement down Into that required by troops engaged in combat and that lor those not so engaged. It was tentatively concluded in November that military traffic occupied aboutercent of the capacity of the roads to the front lines from the supply bases In Tibet and about one-third of the combined capacity of the major access routes. It was thereforethat the forward roads could support the dally resupply requirement of more than five times the number of troops then In frontline combat units and that the access routes from the railheads could handle more than three times the quantity of supplies then required by the troops located In the whole of Tibet

More recently it has been estimated thattroops currently in Tibet wouldailyons during the type of fighting thatlast November. It has also been estimated that the Chinese may wish to reserve as muchons per day of the capacity of the roads for support of an air force In Tibet These requirements, plus an allowance for the trucks that would have to provide petroleum for the operation of the trucks moving supplies, wouldurplus capacitytoet tons per day that could be used toadditional troops deployed to Tibet The total ground force strength that could be supported there, according to this estimate, would be on the orderen. aof aboutivisions.

Original document.

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