Friday, May 18, 2007

Keeping Kool in Khandahar

General Rick will do anything in his power to see that his 'boys' are comfortable in the Panjwai. As comfortable, at least, as the Canadian taxpayer, or the NHL, can make them. While the sentiment is laudible, in practice what he really wants is a regiment of new tanks. But air conditioning is a main feature he claims to need.

The Dutch, who apparently don't need air conditioning, or heavy armoured support for their troops in Afghanistan, are willing to part with their Leopard 2's at a bargain price. Some of these babies will make an appearance in the land of the Pashtun, and the rest will be stationed in Canada's tank training areas.

Never mind the fact that few other Canadian vehicles are air conditioned. The LAVs and other vehicles used by most soldiers in Afghanistan aren't. But perhaps tank personnel will benefit from that cool comfort that made the summertime movies back home so refreshing. Just imagine the fuel consumption as the boys inside try to beat the heat .... and the systemic shock they might get going for mess, or to the loo.

It's probably the first time AC systems have been put forward as a reason for buying military hardware, unless it was a new 'limo' for the Governor General's Horse Guards.

If systemic shock for the tank regiment isn't important then perhaps a systemic shock to the taxpayer is. How about finding out that the price for the new tanks has doubled?

Factoring in the cost of service and maintenance contracts over the proposed 20-year life span, has raised the ante to 1.3 billion somolianos. I wonder what they said the old Leopards were going to cost and what they actually did, over their 'life'? I'll bet it was more than they thought - didn't we have to sell some of them to keep the rest? So we're renting to buy 100 and borrowing a few from the Germans. If we get them bent, I guess they belong to us.

If the service is to be contracted out, as I believe is most service on CAF equipment, who's going to do it, and where? Will we have to load them onto the new C-17's for transport to Holland or Germany for repairs? Will there be service capacity in Khandahar, or will the bent ones be donated to the Afghans like the Leopard 1's? They can drag them around to use as hilltop 'forts'. If the T-60's the Russians left behind didn't last, I don't see the more complex Leopards doing much better.

Afghanistan is poor ground for the big cats.

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