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  • Corps to deploy M1A1 tanks to Afghanistan

    Corps to deploy M1A1 tanks to Afghanistan

    ARMY TIMES
    By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
    Posted : Friday Nov 19, 2010 12:38:18 EST

    The Marine Corps will soon deploy tanks against the Taliban, a first for U.S. forces in the nine-year war in Afghanistan.

    A company of M1A1 tanks — about 15 vehicles — will deploy in mid-December and be employed in Helmand province by early spring, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a Marine spokeswoman in Afghanistan. They will provide Marine forces with heavy 120mm cannon fire, but also advanced optics that can be used to observe Taliban fighters from more than four miles away as they plant improvised explosive devices.

    “Tanks provide us with a deadly accurate weapon system that can be used very effectively against the enemy even as he tries to use the Afghan people as a shield,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, commander of Marine forces in Afghanistan, in a Nov. 19 statement. “The superior optics provided by the tanks give us one more tool to take away the night from the enemy. He can’t use the darkness to lay his IEDs that cause so many casualties among our forces and the civilian population.”

    Tanks are “hardly a weapon of desperation,” and will help Marine forces interdict the flow of drugs south out of Helmand province into Pakistan and the flow of fighter, supplies and weapons as they move north, Mills said.

    Marine officials would not say which company will deploy, but Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., went through Enhanced Mojave Viper pre-deployment training in the spring at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and hasn’t deployed. It was not clear whether they had been selected.

    U.S. forces have not previously used tanks in Afghanistan, but the Corps asked for permission to use tanks last December and was denied, according to the Washington Post. Gen. David Petraeus, who took over as the top commander in Afghanistan this summer, approved a more recent Marine request for them in October.

    Tanks have been used effectively in counterinsurgency environments before. The Corps integrated tanks into infantry patrols in Iraq, providing the ability to blow holes in compound walls and long-range surveillance to grunts on the ground.

    The Post reported that the tanks will likely be used initially in northern Helmand, where Marines have seen intense fighting recently in Sangin and Kajaki. Marine officials would not comment on where they will go, but left open the possibility that they could be used throughout the province, especially in desert areas where Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and MRAP all-terrain vehicles cannot go.

    “While there are several key population areas along the Helmand river, the surrounding areas are vast, open and rugged deserts,” said Chapin, the Marine spokeswoman. “Insurgents forces have to use these areas as ratlines for moving fighters, weapons, money and drugs into and out of key population centers,” Chapin said. “The tracked capability of the tanks will allow for a swift mobile force that can close off escape routes, deter, disrupt or pursue insurgent forces in terrain that might otherwise be unmanageable by our wheeled MRAPs or M-ATVs.”

    Each tank weighs about 68 tons, but travels up to 30 mph over rough terrain or 40mph on roads.
    Wasn't quite sure where to post this one, Afghanistan, or Land Forces since it applies to both.

    I'll be interested to see how effective they can be in this fashion--they obviously won't be as effective in the NE region where the terrain will prevent their most effective use (mountains and mountain passes), but I'm sure we could use them to halt the transport of goods through critical mountain passes and supply routes in that area. That mountain range is rough, especially during rainy season when 3/4 of the roadways are washed out with seasonal rivers.
    "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach...just make sure you thrust upward through his ribcage."

  • #2
    Not convinced

    The supplies for this alone would make me think twice.:hmmm:

    Also not sure the afghan road network can handle the weight of these tanks.

    These tanks usually do not travel long distances cross country that well. So for long distance travel they are relying on Afghan roads and bridges.

    So I am not convinced the tanks will always be at the place where they are needed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Canadian BS....

      Canadian tanks in Afghanistan inspire U.S. deployment


      By Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News November 19, 2010 1:29 PM Be the first to post a comment
      Canadian tanks in Afghanistan inspire U.S. deployment

      The United States is to follow Canada's lead by deploying battle tanks to southern Afghanistan. Canada has used Leopard tanks in Kandahar since 2007 as seen in this photo taken last year that captured the muzzle flash of the 120 mm main gun of the Leopard as it attacked a dirt-walled complex that had been used by the Taliban.

      The United States is to follow Canada's lead by deploying battle tanks to southern Afghanistan. Canada has used Leopard tanks in Kandahar since 2007 as seen in this photo taken last year that captured the muzzle flash of the 120 mm main gun of the Leopard as it attacked a dirt-walled complex that had been used by the Taliban.
      Photograph by: Handout, DND

      KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The United States is to follow Canada's lead by deploying tanks to southern Afghanistan.

      The decision to significantly up the ante in the war against the Taliban by sending 68-ton Marine Corps M1 Abrams tanks to Helmand province comes as Canadian heavy armour plays a vital but little known role in the war.

      U.S. commanders have called on the tanks of the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) to assist them during key combat operations against the Taliban including during a recent offensive. The German-built Leopards have also provided frequent fire support for American troops from within a base in Panjwaii District that overlooks Zhari District.

      Even before the decision by the Marines, the U.S. army was taking "a hard look at bringing them (tanks) over," to Kandahar when Canada's combat forces are withdrawn next summer, because of the successes that the Strathconas have had with them here, said Brig.-Gen. Frederick Hodges, who ran the war in Regional Command South until this month and now heads the Afghanistan Pakistan Co-ordination Centre for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington.

      "I don't think anyone saw a need for them, but we now see value in it."

      Other than Canada, the only other country to have fielded tanks in Afghanistan is Denmark.

      "Nobody else can give what the tank gives," said Maj. Rob McKenzie, commander of the Strathcona's A Squadron, whose seventh tour overseas ended in Kandahar on Friday.

      "We provide an all-weather 24-hour presence with precise fire that limits collateral damage. Because we are so self-sufficient, we can be left out in a blank spot or we can penetrate an area and sustain the breach."

      The Edmonton-based tankers had only been engaged a couple of times by the Taliban during McKenzie's seven-month tour.

      "The paucity of direct fire suggests that they did not want to take us on," he said. "As I tell my guys, if we go somewhere and don't fire a shot, and neither does the enemy, we have achieved our aim."

      A group of Leopards, with their 120-millimetre main guns, provided a block last month during a major offensive by U.S. and Afghan forces in the Horn of Panjwaii. At the same time, other Leopards occupied a river bed in Zhari in support of a paratroop company from the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division.

      "The purpose was to squeeze them inside there," Hodges, the American general, said of the operation in the Horn, which resulted in three villages falling to coalition forces.

      "I thought it was a great use of a system. I don't know anybody who doesn't love tanks."

      An ex-tanker, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, who commands Canada's task force in Kandahar, said he wasn't surprised the Leopards had performed well.

      "They have such a great deterrent capability you don't have to use them in large numbers," Milner said. "They are agile and aggressive and have great IED protection. You need to have something really big to penetrate their hulls."

      Speaking of the recent operations involving the Strathconas and the Americans, McKenzie said, "U.S. forces at the company level were always happy to have us." This was not only because the tanks provided a powerful overwatch capability but because of their ability to pull lighter vehicles when they got stuck, he said.

      Another plus is that the Leopards bring a strong support tail with them and can help sustain light infantry units, such as paratroopers, in the field by providing extra food and water.

      Canada was getting rid of all of its tanks when the Martin government gave the army a combat mission in Kandahar. The country first borrowed and is now acquiring a small fleet of upgraded Leopards from Germany.

      "I was as disappointed as anyone," about the original decision to do away with tanks, said McKenzie, who first served in an earlier version of the Leopard in 1985.

      Stressing that he was expressing his personal opinion, the major added: "It is my hope that we will retain the capability and keep them in a high level of readiness. If we can do that it will help in the retention of our soldiers."
      Copyright (c) Postmedia News


      Read more: Canadian tanks in Afghanistan inspire U.S. deployment
      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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      • #4
        Originally posted by FJV View Post
        The supplies for this alone would make me think twice.:hmmm:

        Also not sure the afghan road network can handle the weight of these tanks.

        These tanks usually do not travel long distances cross country that well. So for long distance travel they are relying on Afghan roads and bridges.

        So I am not convinced the tanks will always be at the place where they are needed.
        You're right, It certainly will be tough to use them in places other than the select areas needed (must be within reasonable "commuting" distance from an airfield). That means a runway that can accept a C5 Galaxy or a C17 Globemaster. There are only a couple of those. Otherwise it's hard going.
        "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach...just make sure you thrust upward through his ribcage."

        Comment


        • #5
          Does anybody know if the Corps' M1's have the TUSK package? I'm guessing they don't; as far as I know, only the M1A2 SEP's have the TUSK upgrade.

          I think they'll be okay as long as they stay reasonably close to an FOB; the M1 is a rather thirsty beast. As long as they're not trying to drive them all over the countryside, this tactic might work.
          "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stitch View Post
            I think they'll be okay as long as they stay reasonably close to an FOB; the M1 is a rather thirsty beast. As long as they're not trying to drive them all over the countryside, this tactic might work.
            They could in theory be followed by a large bomb... I mean, tanker.
            "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach...just make sure you thrust upward through his ribcage."

            Comment


            • #7
              This is overkill. If they need the sensors, why can't they mount the same sensors on a Humvee who has a guy sitting with a radio ready to call arty fire?

              This is a waste of resources. To expend the resources of bringing one tank, the Marines could have brought more Humvees or other vital supplies that will assist the effort.

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              • #8
                Wouldn't a bradley be more than sufficient for this? It's limited gas usage is one, but also it is sufficiently armored to protect against most small arms and even smaller RPGs. It's 25mm cannon can make short work of anyone on foot or in building several miles away..
                The tracks would give it excellent off-road capability.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Humvee has excellent off-road capability. The problem is that the armor requirements against IEDs, render its off road capability to nearly non-existent. Even IEDs today can kill a Bradley or even disable the M-1 tank. The only thing to do is improve tactics and get more Predators or UAV drones and get better surveillance.

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                  • #10
                    I sure hope that someone, somewhere has talked to the IDF. We did this in both the first and second Intifadas with great success.
                    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

                    Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.

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                    • #11
                      Anybody see this move?

                      The Beast of War

                      Not making a statment on introducing tanks to the Afghan war (Don't know enough about the tactical situation there).

                      I just wanted to know if such a scenario is plausible.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bigross86 View Post
                        I sure hope that someone, somewhere has talked to the IDF. We did this in both the first and second Intifadas with great success.
                        Yes but that was when you didn't have to deal with the logistics and the expenses that comes with transporting an entire brigade of tanks 8,000 miles away and making sure the tanks work as advertised in the field. To me, it is simply overkill and a waste of resources.

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                        • #13
                          It's not a brigade but a single company. It's actually replacing the departing Canadian tank squadron. The Americans are keen on keeping an asset that has proven so good in theatre.

                          The Canadians sent tanks, originally the LEO 1C2s, mainly because we didn't have UCAVs, but soon learned that tanks offer something UCAV cannot provide - staying power. And plus, tanks are far more accurate and provide the trigger pullers with a far greater situational awareness than a PREDATOR.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Blademaster View Post
                            Even IEDs today can kill a Bradley or even disable the M-1 tank.
                            Only if you give the enemy enough preparation time to bury a couple hundred pounds in the ground, as happened with that one Danish Leopard. Otherwise you're looking at scratched paint, if they're lucky thrown tracks. At least that's the experience with the MLC42 Marder 1A5s in the North when they've encountered IEDs.

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                            • #15
                              The Federal opposition called for the Govt to deploy tanks to the Ghan, The Army basically told the Opposition to pissoff, in amoungst the troops saying they wish the politicians would stop visiting!. Not sure about our M1's I think they have an APU so they don't have to run the turbine all the time. Either way the army believes they aren't of use for what they are doing in their AO.
                              Ego Numquam

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