Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Big Ol' Jet Airliner

There may be three years of Canadians flying into Afghanistan left before the scumbag killers get their final notice, but it's never too soon to figure out how you're going to get their kit back home. Well the Canadian forces aren't sleeping at any switches, even if the the "Harper Government" - best war party to be almost elected in decades did cock-up the supply conduit. And so this recent piece on how things are going without the stopover in Abu Dhabi.

The Vancouver Sun, and other papers which carried the piece - no doubt emanating from a military source, outline a complicated process of getting our troops home via Germany. Now that couldn't be as much fun as the SOP of getting them home through the gin joints of Cyprus. But I think some recent misbehaviour on those 'ROTO decompressions' have done 'an Abu Dhabi' on the Cypriots. The latter putting a greater value on their tourist trade than they do in entertaining  CF personnel on a piss-up. Maybe we're banned there, too. But I digress.

The way home follows the old route, non-stop and then takes a sharp right to fly across south-eastern Europe to Germany. I'm wondering why? Wasn't there a load of ballyhoo about the Russians allowing free transport of non-lethal supplies across it's territory. Now, I know the troops are all 'lean, mean, killin' machines' at least in Gen Rick's (ret) estimation, but surely a planeful of the troops disarmed, in mufti and on their way home would qualify for a free pass. And wouldn't a route over Russia, or at least across the friendly ex-SSR's and the Black Sea,  be more direct? Or maybe there's some ATC problem with going the short way. Any way they're taking the long way home.

So supply and replenishment isn't a problem, and isn't considered to be a potential problem. The four C-17's of the CAF fleet can get that job done. But the other stuff will have to find some other way home. A fleet of trucks will be bringing heavy equipment and 2000-odd storage containers through Afghanistan and into Pakistan for shipment home by sea. The C-17s - or other 'rental transport'* will be moving sensitive equipment, 3 containers at a time, to the safe base in Germany at the rate of two flights per day. That doesn;'t mean 8 flights per day but more than likely exactly what is said, one, or two, of the 17's making the trip,  twice (or once) per day.

I'm wondering what's going to happen to some of the equipment, like those Leopard 2's for instance. I was under the impression that Canada had bought a number of these tanks, used, from the Dutch, but from things I 've read lately,  that 'purchase' may have been more in the nature of  'a lease'. For we're giving the tanks back, long before we're going home. The Marines are deploying tanks to take our place. So who pays to get these babies back to Holland, or wherever they're going? I know we rented the Ruslans to get them to Kandahar. The Dutch aren't all that stupid, so I'd imagine we're paying to send them back, too.

And then there are the Nyasas and all the bomb-resistant battlewagons we've bought to keep 'our boys' safe. Ideally they'd stay in Afghanistan, for as sure as hell they're going to be of little use in western Canada. They're clumsy enough on the Afghan tarmac, they'd be tipping all the time on Manitoba's back roads. But leaving them in Afghanistan would mean giving them, or selling them, to somebody. That means giving them to the Afghans, or selling them to America - which is paying for everybody else except the French, Brits, Germans and Italians (who already have theirs). And since the war is the best economic stimulus America has these days, selling second-hand to America is a no brainer, as well as a no-starter.

* Rental Transport?  The ongoing saga of  'we shoulda, but didn't'. Those Ruslans will be rented to haul stuff home, so much that the article posits buying another one or two C-17's is needed. That would mean we'd then have 6 C-17s. Enough to respond to a good disaster anywhere and 'only' for another billion and a half, or so. Scratching open the scab on the sore that we could have had all 27 Ruslans for about that much, spares included and have been renting some of  them out ourselves. Another "Harper Government" foul-up?

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