Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Our Leopards in Afstan

Some good information from the blog of the Ottawa Citizen's David Pugliese:
Word in from Afghanistan is that German tankers are impressed with the performance and robustness of the Leopard 2 A6Ms they lent to their Canadian counterparts [more here]. They are also impressed at the aggressive nature with which the Strathconas are employing the tanks. (As an aside, soldiers from the other armored regiments and the reserves are serving on the tanks as well and are gaining from the experience).

The Canadian armored crews love their Leopards and are driving them to the hilt. A significant number of modifications and improvements thought up by the Canadian NCOs for the Leopard 2s were taken very seriously by all parties concerned and most were adopted outright in preparation for the Afghan deployment.

The Germans are monitoring the tank situation closely since this is the first real sustained combat operation that the Leopard 2s have participated in. A Leopard 2 took part in a firefight in Kosovo….and Denmark has also reportedly [why the "reportedly"] used its Leopards in operations in Afghanistan but it’s generally recognized that Canadians are leading the way in this area.

In addition, it’s expected in the near future that Canada’s Leopard fleet in Afghanistan will continue to consist of the Canadian Leopard C2s and Leopard 2s. That’s because the mine plows and rollers in the Canadian Forces inventory are only designed to go on to hard points on the C2s (although this situation could change since modifications to the Leopard 2s are being looked at so the plows and rollers could be installed on them).

All the Leopard 2 use is, however, taking its toll. In late November, Lt.-Col. Perry Wells gave a briefing in Ottawa that outlined how the Leopards in Afghanistan were being driven up to 200 kilometres a week. I’m told that figure has now been easily surpassed. It makes sense that since the tanks are being used at a high rate not originally envisioned in the beginning of the deployment, there would be a corresponding shortage of spare parts. So the Canadian Forces is buying more used Leopard 2s to strip down for parts as was reported last week in news stories.

Military officials say this makes sense.

Indeed it does……but DND tried to pull a fast one in an attempt to hide the ongoing problems with parts. In early December, DND was claiming that there was no parts problem and that everything was just fine. “DND and PWGSC (Public Works and Government Services Canada) have established the necessary mechanisms to support the tanks in theatre,” was the official response at the time.

A little more than two months later word leaked out that more surplus tanks were being obtained so they could be stripped down for parts.


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