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  • #46
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    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

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    • #47
      Armoured vehicles purchase hits Defence Department speed bump


      By David Pugliese, Ottawa CitizenDecember 17, 2009 12:43 AM



      * Story
      * Photos ( 1 )


      The Canadian military will purchase $5 billion worth of new-generation armoured vehicles to combat 'equipment fatigue,' Walt Natynczyk has announced.

      The Canadian military will purchase $5 billion worth of new-generation armoured vehicles to combat 'equipment fatigue,' Walt Natynczyk has announced.
      Photograph by: Shah Marai, AFP/Getty Images

      Five months after Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced a multibillion-dollar project to buy new armoured vehicles, the program has run into trouble as government officials question the value of the purchase in the wake of the looming 2011 troop pullout from Afghanistan.

      Military officers privately acknowledge the Defence Department's program to buy more than 100 Close Combat Vehicles (CCVs) has fallen about a year behind schedule and there are concerns within the Canadian Forces the project might be scuttled.

      In addition, a Dec. 2 letter from Public Works, obtained by Canwest News Service, confirms the timetable for the program has slipped at least six months.

      Although details on the cost of the project haven't been released, some estimates have the price tag at as high as $2 billion. According to the CCV schedule, a contract would be in place by next September.

      But the Dec. 2 letter written by Public Works official Kristen Ward points out that because of ongoing delays, the Canadian Forces would only be getting around to testing various candidate vehicles at that point.

      Also delayed is the release to industry of what is known as a statement of interest and qualifications, or SOIQ. That document outlines further details of the project and is a key step in identifying what companies might be interested in bidding.

      In her letter to industry, Ward noted the SOIQ "will be released in the near future" but she did not provide any date. The SOIQ was originally supposed to be issued Sept. 15.

      Industry representatives and military officers say the delay is because of an internal battle in government and the Defence Department over the project.

      The army argues that the vehicles, which would accompany its Leopard tanks into battle, are a priority.

      But others at the Defence Department question whether the project is the best way to spend defence dollars when other, more important equipment is needed. Some in government have questioned whether the vehicles are still a priority since the military mission in Afghanistan finishes in July 2011 and a large-scale mission requiring close combat vehicles likely would not be planned anytime soon after.

      Some Conservative government aides have questioned the type of industrial benefits the project would have for Canadian firms.

      But various companies interested in bidding have assured the government they would do much of the work in Canada.

      The Defence Department stated in an e-mail that the close combat vehicle project is still of high importance. "The acquisition of new land combat vehicles is a key step in the implementation of the Canada First Defence Strategy, the government's commitment to renewing the Canadian Forces' core equipment platforms," according to an e-mail from spokeswoman Lynne Rattray.

      The e-mail noted the SOIQ would be released as soon as possible after it received government approval. Rattray did not give details on when that might happen.

      MacKay announced the close combat vehicle project in July.

      Stephen Priestley, an analyst with the Canadian-American Strategic Review, noted the Afghan pullout in 2011 would make the project difficult to move forward. Priestley said the concept makes sense but added, "Where was the urgency for these vehicles three years ago?"

      In addition, the Defence Department is asking for bids to repair and overhaul Leopard 2 training tanks. But the first of those tanks won't be delivered for at least another 18 months.

      In March, army commander Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie expressed his frustration during a Senate defence committee hearing that Leopard 2 tanks purchased from the Netherlands had been sitting in storage for nearly two years. "Quite frankly, it's taking an awfully long time," Leslie said.

      Dan Ross, the Defence Department's assistant deputy minister of materiel, declined to authorize tank project staff to do an interview with Canwest News Service about the program.

      Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
      To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

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      • #48
        New LAVS for Afghanistan have more armour, less punch

        Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, December 14, 2009
        More On This Story
        New LAVS for Afghanistan have more armour, less punch

        A Canadian Light Armoured Vehicle III (LAV III) in Afghanistan in 2006. MCpl Yves Gemus/DND/Handout A Canadian Light Armoured Vehicle III (LAV III) in Afghanistan in 2006.

        KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Canada has "rushed" scores of fighting vehicles with five tonnes of additional armour plating to Afghanistan to try to counter the Taliban's lethal success with larger homemade landmines.

        The latest response to improvised explosive devices that have killed more than 100 Canadian troops involves putting a smaller, remotely controlled mobile gun system atop what had been an anti-tank variant of Canada's light-armoured vehicles instead of the turret-mounted cannon commonly found on the LAVs, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie and a Canadian improvised explosive device specialist based in Afghanistan confirmed in recent interviews.

        The cannon-less LAVs now entering service in Panjwaii, Dand and Daman districts were the only ones if the Canadian inventory that had not already been deployed to Kandahar, they said.

        "We took those 66 LAVs and built on the lessons of Afghanistan," Lt.-Gen. Leslie said, adding that as well as more belly plating, there was shock frame seating and straps to hold soldiers in place like fighter pilots in a cockpit.

        There will not only be frank political discussions about what role Canada intends to play in Afghanistan when the current combat mission ends in July 2011 when Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the NATO commander, meets this Thursday in Ottawa with senior Canadian officials. Among the many military issues to be discussed, none has a higher priority than how to reduce the number of coalition deaths and catastrophic injuries caused by IEDs.

        Canada and the U.S. have both established anti-armour task forces to examine this vital issue. The U.S. spent more than $26 billion to develop (mine-resistance ambush protected) vehicles, but as Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell explained to McClatchy Newspapers last month, there had still been "real problems . . . off road in Afghanistan" recently, so another $5 billion has been spent on a new variant that is more manoeuvrable.

        The U.S. army's 5th Stryker Brigade, which uses a high-tech version of the Canadian-designed light armoured vehicle, also quickly ran into difficulties when it deployed to Kandahar this summer, losing more than a dozen soldiers to IED strikes in a few weeks.

        The changes to the new Canadian LAVs entering Afghan service "sacrifice a bit of weapon power" in return for "the most up-to-date armour," said Capt. Olivier Sylvain of Montreal, who as chief of battle damage assessment for Task Force Afghanistan is a forensic specialist of sorts on IEDs.

        Capt. Sylvain studied the effects of IED strikes on armoured vehicles for a year before an Afghan deployment that was only three months long, so that he could bring the latest insights back to Canada as soon as possible.

        "In general terms, no vehicle is invulnerable," Capt. Sylvain said. "What we are doing is assessing the threat and reacting very quickly. The threat is changing and we adapt. In many cases, we are pro-active."

        What Canada learned from IED strikes was constantly exchanged with U.S. forces and other NATO allies, he said.

        "It is a very sharing relationship. The threat is a lot different than in Iraq so the Americans used a lot of our research when they brought the Strykers here."

        Whenever a Canadian vehicle gets hit by an IED, Capt. Sylvain and a small team make a first-hand assessment, sending the information and suggestions for improvements directly back to offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Valcartier, Que., where vehicles are blown up to test them against the types of threats that are seen here.

        "I find the work intellectually fascinating," the young Van Doo officer said. "It is like a puzzle. You have a piece of a vehicle and you try to reconstruct what happened."

        Of the Taliban's IED capabilities, Capt. Sylvain said: "We are not in a closed bottle. There is a lot of communication between insurgents about what works and what our developing tactics are. It's a fluid environment. What was true a year ago has changed, and it changed from the year before, too.

        The "new, old LAVs" now in Kandahar were what Leslie called "a bridging mechanism" until Canada can complete a $5.2-billion upgrade to the entire fleet that is slated to begin in 2012.

        "When completed, it will reset our LAV fleet for the next 15 to 20 years," the army commander said, "because it is a fair assumption that wherever we go next after Kandahar, we will be facing an asymmetric threat from suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices."

        Read more: New LAVS for Afghanistan have more armour, less punch
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        Canadian Army seeks to accelerate Close Combat Vehicle project

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        By Sharon Hobson

        23 November 2009

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        The Canadian Army is trying to move the CAD2.2 billion (USD2 billion) Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) acquisition project forward quickly, before the minority Conservative government changes, or changes its mind.

        The project to acquire up to 138 CCVs was announced by the government in July, but plans to issue a solicitation of interest and qualification on 15 September, to be followed swiftly by a request for proposals, have been delayed to give some of the competitors more time to organise their industrial benefits proposals.

        Under current plans, the 30-45 tonne CCV will not replace a current vehicle, but will bridge the gap between the army's LAV III 8x8 light armoured vehicles and Leopard 2A4 and A6 tanks. The army wants the CCV to be able to deliver fully equipped infantry and forward artillery observers to the battle area for close combat operations, in medium- to high-threat environments, with, where necessary, Leopard tank support.
        153 of 479 words
        Copyright IHS (Global) Limited, 2009
        To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

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        • #49
          Canada still has work to do in Afghanistan


          By Richard J. Evraire, Citizen SpecialDecember 16, 2009Comments (1)



          The engagement of the Canadian Forces (CF) in Afghanistan since 2002 has resulted in a high cost in human lives and material resources. Until a few months ago, the size of the CF contingent in Kandahar Province made it impossible to secure significant amounts of territory for more than short periods of time. But with the recent influx of American reinforcements, the gradual build-up of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and a reordering of the sectors of responsibility, a new concept of operations that combines a population-centric approach and accepted counterinsurgency techniques has been introduced in the province.

          Canadians in Task Force Kandahar have had considerable early success in applying this so-called "village approach." They clear an area of insurgents; hold the ground through a physical presence with Afghan National Security Forces units; and build, through the application of funding to local projects, to improve security and services and foster economic growth. In its "whole of government" approach to the Afghan mission, Canada has achieved some success in a continuity of effort among the departments and agencies involved, notably Defence, Foreign Affairs, Correctional Service of Canada, the RCMP and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

          Overall, the focus has shifted from defeating the insurgents through military means to an approach where their ability to threaten, intimidate and recruit a vulnerable population will be dramatically reduced.

          But such an approach will take time to show widespread results. The "accelerating surge" announced by U.S. President Barack Obama will enable more rapid progress, but the desired outcome will not be achieved as early as July 2011, the date on which U.S. forces are expected to begin withdrawal. Moreover, ultimate success is directly linked to the growth and competency of the Afghan National Security Forces (the army and police) and the ability of the national government to deal with corruption and governance issues.

          In 2008, the Canadian Parliament adopted a motion which states that "Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011." The insistence by the prime minister and others that the military will withdraw in 2011 has effectively established a position that Canada will have by that time fulfilled its moral obligation to assist and that our national interest will not be further served by a continued military presence.

          Canadians -- politicians and voters alike -- are influenced by the negative perceptions of the situation in Afghanistan. The iconic image of the mission has become the ramp ceremony, with little attention paid to the many successes being achieved on the ground. There has been little informed debate on the strategic implications of the mission and its importance to security and stability in the region.

          As the 2011 departure deadline approaches, and as Ottawa this week hosts Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, there is increased urgency to engage in a debate on the future of the mission. Identifying a 2011 deadline in early 2008 may have made sense with the information at hand at the time, but consideration should be given to what has happened since. While Canada may not have the resources necessary to maintain the same size of force currently in theatre post 2011, a total withdrawal would be a betrayal of our involvement to date.

          The CDA recommends that, without engaging in planned offensive operations, Canada continue to contribute to the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan beyond 2011 by supporting development and providing training and mentoring assistance as well as other military support, such as the helicopter support Canada currently provides to Canadian and ISAF forces.

          Canadians need to learn more about the successes being achieved in Afghanistan. They must come to realize that a vital Canadian national interest is at stake with the possibility of a major degradation of the security situation in the entire region if the ISAF mission were to fail or be abandoned. Specific action is needed now to address potential Canadian involvement in Afghanistan post-2011 to ensure that development work can continue -- the "hold" and "build" elements of the approach being taken in counterinsurgency.

          Accordingly, the government is encouraged to establish a panel -- like the one chaired by John Manley in fall 2007 -- to review the Afghan mission, to determine options for the future, and recommend a way ahead.

          Lt.-Gen. (retired) Richard Evraire is chairman of the Conference of Defence Associations, which will today host a speaking engagement with Gen. McChrystal on "The Road Ahead for Afghanistan."
          Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

          ===============

          Kandahar critique
          Brian Stewart
          A U.S. think tank takes a hard look at our war effort
          Last Updated: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | 4:30 PM ET Comments33Recommend38
          By Brian Stewart, special to CBC News
          http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/1...p-stewart.html
          In war it can be useful to see ourselves as others do, for outsiders can set aside those deep and natural ties of affection for our soldiers that sometimes cloud one's vision.

          Foreign military observers can concentrate on what works and what does not, and if they see "failure" in the campaigns of others they're less shy about using the word.

          At the moment — at least as others see us — Canada is coming in for some hard knocks for the job we are doing in Kandahar.

          The most stinging critique is a new 72-page study by an influential U.S. think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

          Titled "The Taliban's Campaign for Kandahar," the study claims the guerrillas seriously outmaneuvered a hopelessly under-strength Canadian battle group that was never able to put more than a few hundred soldiers into combat operations at the same time.

          The Taliban, the analysis argues, used diversionary attacks to draw Canadian units into costly sideshows in the province's rural Zhari and Panjwai districts, just west of Kandahar City, where they were never able to hold ground they took.
          Overextended? Eric Tremblay of Montreal takes a break in a grape field while patrolling in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province in September 2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)Overextended? Eric Tremblay of Montreal takes a break in a grape field while patrolling in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province in September 2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)

          What the Canadians should have done, it's claimed here, is concentrate all their efforts on protecting Kandahar City, the provincial capital of roughly 500,000, and a key objective of Taliban strategy in the south.

          As a result, the report says, "this campaign ultimately developed into a costly stalemate" that left the Taliban free to reorganize and "advance on Kandahar City from the north."
          A big setback

          It should be stressed that the courage and professionalism of Canadian soldiers is nowhere slighted in this report. Indeed, it confirms that the Taliban were badly beaten by the initial Canadian campaigns in 2006.

          But the American military seems convinced that Canada's Kandahar campaign in southern Afghanistan is one of the more serious setbacks suffered in the whole war.

          The analysis plays directly into NATO's dread that the Taliban might draw Western forces into fighting inside a highly populated urban area, such as Kandahar City.

          Now, I'm not entirely convinced by the study, but it's worth noting because it likely reflects current U.S. military thinking.

          The ISW is closely identified with the latest counter-insurgency and "surge" schools of thought championed by top U.S. commanders such as Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new supreme commander in Afghanistan.

          One senses in this study the views of McChrystal supporters throughout. And the fact remains that the Taliban ended up with strong positions in the Arghandab valley just north of Kandahar City and have infiltrated into three suburbs on the north, west and southwest.

          Getting them out of there is now the preoccupation of the U.S. reinforcements that have moved in to join the Canadians.
          Thin red line

          And after reading numerous sources now describe the repeated Canadian failures to hold the ground taken from insurgents, I'm left wondering what on earth the Canadian government thought it was doing when it decided that a tiny force of 2,200 (now 2,800), without even helicopters at first, could hold down all of Kandahar province, population one million, the very heartland of the Taliban.

          When they arrived in 2006, the Canadians replaced a much stronger U.S. force. And while the Taliban seemed dormant at the time, early intelligence warnings noted they were merely regrouping for a counteroffensive.

          Since then, talk about your thin red line!

          Canadian officers have often struggled to command only two infantry companies stretched 100 kilometres apart. They were really only able to support 380 infantry in the field for any length of time.

          In hindsight, these numbers look even more ludicrous today.

          Just consider that in the neighbouring Helmand province, a full British brigade of 5,500, including elite parachute troops with helicopters, had trouble holding their own in an area of less strategic importance to the Taliban.

          According to the report, the big blunder of the war in the south was to leave the under-resourced Canadians to hold Kandahar, the true axis of the battle in the region, while focusing on the struggle in Helmand, a mistake blamed on McChrystal's predecessor, who was fired abruptly earlier this year.

          This may be overly simplistic. Helmand is a major transit route for Taliban headed for Kandahar.

          But, still, the weak garrisoning of Kandahar is an historical fact that can't be shrugged off by either NATO or the Harper government, which ruthlessly imposed budget caps that restricted Canadian troop strength.
          Not lost

          In an interview, the author of the report, military analyst Carl Forsberg said: "It did surprise me that Canada did not make more noise about the difficult situation it was in, and did not press loudly more for outside help."
          U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, wants more boots on the ground and in the communities. U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, wants more boots on the ground and in the communities.

          Forsberg spent over a year researching and analyzing the campaign in Kandahar and his findings suggest Canada's role there remains one of the many questions still to be answered in the conduct of this war.

          The report pounds away at consistent weaknesses.

          On their own, Canadian units "were too small to employ important counter-insurgency tactics, like conducting clearing missions and holding terrain … and were limited in their ability to generate actionable intelligence … and there were insufficient troops to conduct night patrols for more than a few weeks at a time or in large areas."

          Most serious, from the McChrystal-camp viewpoint, was the failure of Canadians to consistently pursue counter-insurgency actions because of rising casualties from Taliban bombings.

          While it makes gloomy reading, the report is careful, however, not to call the Kandahar campaign "lost."

          Three U.S. battalions have now been put under Canadian command, almost doubling the entire Kandahar force to 5,000 or so and more are on their way.

          These soldiers will now be able to do more patrolling on foot in heavily populated areas (and inevitably face more risks while doing so).

          "Starting today we move forward in a new way," McChrystal told allied officers at Kandahar airport this past week, a sentiment that seemed to sit well with Canada's commander, Gen. Daniel Menard.

          However much Ottawa — and much of Canada — has come to hate this long and draining campaign, at least our soldiers can finally share the risks with some decent company.
          To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

          Comment


          • #50
            Canada on sidelines of Afghan strategy
            Doug Saunders
            Canada on sidelines of Afghan strategy - The Globe and Mail
            London From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 12:00AM EST Last updated on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 9:57AM EST

            It was visible in the protesters preparing to take to the streets of London dressed as the leaders of Britain, Germany, the United States, France and Japan. Canada's role in Afghanistan, it seemed, was too minor to be mocked.

            It was audible in the words of Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who seemed to have been taken by surprise by the key idea to be tabled at today's high-level conference on the Afghan war - a proposal by President Hamid Karzai to create an international fund to pay Taliban fighters and leaders to join the government.

            And it was visible in the list of promises. While other countries were promising hundreds of extra troops, tens of millions of dollars in aid and commitments of money to the Taliban fund, and ideas to the plan for the war's final transition to an Afghan army, Canadian officials acknowledged they weren't bringing anything to the 63-nation conference.

            "I am anxious to see what President Karzai will put forward ... we will make a determination on that as to whether this is a plan with which we can work," Mr. Cannon said yesterday. "We need to come back to Canada and give these ideas serious consideration."

            In short, Canada is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the Afghanistan debate.

            With Canada planning to end its combat role in the summer of 2011, the war's end game has become a matter for the big powers. Briefings by officials from Britain and the United States did not mention Canadian contributions to the debate about the mission's future.

            In contrast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a $70-million contribution to Mr. Karzai's proposed organization to bring moderate branches of the Taliban into the government and army. Ms. Merkel also added about 800 soldiers to Germany's NATO force in northern Afghanistan, bringing their strength to more than 5,000. French President Nicolas Sarkozy disappointed the United States by refusing to raise France's current 3,000-troop commitment to bolster the 30,000 U.S. Marines who are fighting in a one-year "surge" designed to stabilize the south.

            Unlike larger and more militarized countries, Canada has neither the troops nor the financial capacity to expand its Afghan role. And politics also seem to get in the way of a larger contribution: An aide to Mr. Cannon said yesterday that many of the spending commitments and strategic proposals made by the likes of Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy would require the approval of a parliamentary committee - an impossibility while the House of Commons is prorogued by order of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

            Numerically, Canada has visibly lost its clout: In 2006, its 2,500 soldiers made up 13 per cent of the NATO force; today, Canada contributes little more than 3 per cent of the 84,000 troops in Afghanistan and has moved from commanding the province of Kandahar to sharing responsibility for a single district. The battle effectively became Americanized as the large-scale coalition became unwieldy and failed to contain the expansion of the Taliban.

            It is not that Canada has lost respect. In fact, many NATO allies, including British military leaders, say privately that they believe Canada's withdrawal plans are wise, as there is deep skepticism that the U.S. plan to have a military surge and then transfer power to a retrained Afghan National Army will be successful.

            But it does seem that Canada has lost influence, especially in the debate over the war's end game.

            U.S. officials expressed their dismay yesterday that Canada and the Netherlands - and possibly other NATO partners - will be withdrawing in 2011, when U.S. strategists are suggesting that a five-year commitment may be needed.

            "2010 is clearly is the year in which we are either going to turn the corner and move in a fundamentally different direction and succeed or not ... so it is the time of maximum effort," Ivo Daadler, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said. "This is therefore not the time to start decreasing effort. It is to maintain, if not expand, the effort."
            To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

            Comment

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