Canada’s wheeled LAV armored personnel carriers have faced mixed reviews in Afghanistan. On the one hand, they’ve provided survivable firepower and mobility that has been very effective when the terrain allows, and Canada’s unique Coyote surveillance and targeting variant has been an important contributor in all environments. On the other hand, the vehicles have displayed important limitations on their movement in Afghanistan’s harsh terrain, chewing through spare parts while remaining unable to support some operations effectively. As a result, some planned LAV variants were canceled, and Canada chose to deploy tracked Leopard/Leopard 2 tanks and M113 tracked APCs in theater.
Canada’s LAVs also remain in theater, however, and must be supported. To that end, the Government of Canada recently awarded General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) a sole-source, C$ 374 million (current value $372.8 million) Phase 2 contract that will last from June 1/08 – March 31/13, ad may be extended at the government’s option.
If the rising cost of fuel is pushing you to change some of your transportation habits, you’re not alone. The US military started to focus on energy efficiency and alternate energy sources several years ago, as a response to the triple threat of future strategic supply concerns, rising costs that eat into service budgets, and the vulnerability of their fuel supply lines to IED land mines or mine-based interdiction at sea.
In addition to moves like installing wind power at Guantanamo Bay, solar-generating parking lot shaders at NAB Coronado, etc., the US Navy has a pair of key energy conservation programs that are expected to save 1.14 million barrels of oil, and about $157 million, in FY 2008.
Operations in Afghanistan have created operational and political friction among NATO allies due to some members who will not commit their forces to combat situations, forces not delivered as promised, and shortages of critical assets like helicopters. It has also featured some innovations, such as ISAF’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams. PRTs combine military force with direct aid delivery, acting as a key aid supplement to civil groups, and reaching areas where wealthy non-governmental organizations will not operate due to risk aversion or political issues.
Spain operates a PRT at Qal-i-Naw in Afghanistan’s northwestern Baghdis province, about 100 km NNE east of Herat and near the border with Turkmenistan. Baghdis falls under ISAF’s West Regional command, and is not a major conflict zone like the souteastern provinces along Pakistan’s border. Even so, it will require a long-term security presence in order to remain stable, and to slowly expand the central government’s authority. Recent Spanish expenditures are helping to prepare that next step, by raising, accommodating, and training an Afghan National Army force that can secure this area over the longer term.
In September 2007, Spain earmarked EUR 4.5 million to equip and train a company of 100 ANA soldiers, then added another EUR 2.5 million to build them appropriate barracks and facilities. A Spanish “operational team of instruction and link” team of 52 is working to train the Afghans, and costs EUR 200,000 initial investment plus about EUR 200,000 per month in ongoing funds. Now Infodefensa reports that Spain will spend EUR 22 million (currently $35 million) over the next 2 years to train, equip, and house an Afghan Army battalion of 600 men, which is to be based in Baghdis and operational by Spring 2009.
This article prepared with the assistance of DID subscriber Pedro Lucio.
In 2005 Canada was facing a complete lack of integrated in-theater helicopter support. Worse, the Canadian Forces faced an equally complete lack of options. Canada had never operated attack helicopters, so there were none to be had. Its heavy lift CH-47s had been sold to the Dutch in 1991, and the program to belatedly replace them cannot deliver before 2011-2012. The navy’s Sea King fleet was dangerously old and needed for maritime roles, and their replacement CH-148 Cyclones/H-92 Superhawks have yet to be delivered. New CH-149 Cormorant/EH101 search-and-rescue helicopters are non-military versions that are needed along Canada’s huge coastlines, and the helicopters have encountered serious and long-running reliability issues during their short lifetimes. Finally, other Army helicopters like the CH-146 Griffon/ Bell 412 lacked the carrying capacity required to operate as true utility helicopters in Afghanistan’s performance-sapping high altitudes and hot temperatures.