Monday, October 25, 2010

Making the Hard Harder

One of the major 'problems' facing the Canadian operation in Afghanistan is bringing five years worth of battle resources back from there. Canada has deployed a tank unit and an artillery unit along with the heavier equipment sent out:  the choppers, LAVs and other vehicles. Add to that the other paraphernalia required for waging modern war and the 'stand down' of Canada's warrior contingent, slated for 2012,  and the time-line involved for a Canadian withdrawal, assumes some notable proportions. Until last week, that was.

Last week a zit that had been in formation for a year or so came to head in the form of a nasty boil that popped, stopping Canadians from using Base Mirage - the military staging area in the UAE. "Wha happen?", as Desi Ricardo used to say.

Well to make a short story, the Canadian Ministry of Transport refused to grant an extension of landing rights to Emirate Airlines, who foolishly thought they might extend their direct flight services to Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Air Canada complained to the government that, although they aren't interested in direct flights to Dubai, the Arabs would be 'stealing' some of their custom - mainly the travellers who like to stage into and out of the middle east through a European stopover and change of carrier, or more specifically traveller who have to 'stage out' of Toronto or Montreal after arriving on Emirate.

The Dubaians took this Conservative negativity with some opprobrium and told the Canadians they could close Base Mirage, which had been running since 2001. To make the point clearer, the day they made the announcement, the Emirates also told the CAF flight carrying the CinC and the MofD to find another way home, forcing their flight to divert to Italy. Canadian flights are no longer welcome in Emirati air space. If we're lucky, they won't cancel the two weekly flights they do have flying into Toronto. The DoD has been in the habit of ferrying the honour flights of grieving families out to Kandahar for a photo opportunity on the first class A380 flights run by Emirate. Canadian business types, and government VIPs are also fond of the first-class amenities on the long haul to Dubai. But the fey blades running ther PMO wouldn't know much about that and wouldn't need to ask. Now somebody has arranged to jack the cost of Canada's military un-deployment, possibly sky high.

Talk now is of a withdrawal through the Ukraine or the friendly skies of Russia. Both those will require some high intensity diplomatic activity. There is no reason, given Mr. Harper's  bragadoccio and bombastic defense of North American air space from Russian Bison, that the Russians will want to give him a break on costs. The Ukrainians might, but he hasn't done much for them lately, either. The Georgians should, but in this case they're in the 'useless tit' department. I'm surprised he's not asking for Israeli help. But the Russians probably have a problem with their Ruslans landing there. And that's another story.

I mentioned those tanks? The ex-Dutch Leopard II's that have marked the annals of our recent military history with all their air-conditioned direct fire on Taliban targets? You can bet your bippy they weren't Taliban tanks, probably not even taxis or motorscooters, either. More in the nature of those notorious Taliban 'compounds' needing a new doorway, or the even more ubiquitous Taliban mountains. As a matter of fact, there has been precious little press on the exploits of the armored, so I'd bet they've been laid-up around Base Kandahar with come nifty paint jobs for the photo ops. But I digress. Those tanks required the use of Ruslans to get them out there. As did some of the same kind of helicopters we deployed to help the Myanmar floods a couple of years back. They wouldn't fit into a CF-17. Given that this process will be more rushed than the deployment, more Ruslans will have to be rented.

It would be interesting to see what the Ruslan rentals have cost us since we got our 4 heavy lifters. I'm sure the latter will be of some use for something, unless they're tasked to ferrying Mounties into Haiti.

It's a good thing that Canadians have full confidence in their Conservative govermint, for running a war on terror and for tough negotiations over airports and landing rights. They can make us look a lot more stupid than we actually are, but we know the Liberals could be, and the socialists would be, worse. Maybe they'll change their stupid minds this time.

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