NATO About to Lease Troop Helis for Afghanistan?

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Afghan Army Mi-17s(click to view full) An Oct 24/07 report in Canada’s Globe & Mail claims that: “NATO plans to rent helicopters to resupply front lines and remote bases in southern Afghanistan – an unprecedented move that could reduce ground casualties even as it exposes the unwillingness of major European allies to send their choppers into dangerous, Taliban-infested areas.” Which may be partly explained by US Secretary of Defense Gates’ remarks, in a recent European speech: “As it stands today, non-U.S. NATO nations have more than 2 million men and women in uniform, yet we struggle to maintain 23,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This is partly a function of how NATO militaries are organized, and partly a matter of resources – but it is mostly a matter of will and commitment. The same is true for equipment and other resources. Consider that earlier this year the U.S. extended its Aviation Bridging Force in Afghanistan in Kandahar [DID: 20 CH-47 Chinook helicopters] because the mightiest and wealthiest military alliance in the history of the world was unable to produce 16 helicopters needed by the ISAF commander. Sixteen.” While European defense budgets are low, this is a case of forces being available, […]

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