Monday, October 06, 2003

Canadian Forces = Mess

Remember a few years back when almost the entire armored force of the Canadian Armed Forces were held hostage by a ship captain because the country couldn't pay the freight bill? Yep, insane as it sounds, it really happened. Things haven't improved, according to this piece in the Guardian which reveals that two Canadian soldiers recently died when their unarmored jeep ran over a landmine:

At the weekend, a report in The Globe and Mail newspaper revealed that a top US commander in Kabul had deemed the jeeps too flimsy to use on patrol in Afghanistan a year ago. He ordered the Canadian troops, under US command at the time, to use US Humvees.

The Canadian troops are now under Nato command, and are using Canadian equipment. The difference may have cost Sgt Short and Corporal Beerenfenger their lives. Experts say they might have survived the explosion if they had been driving a Humvee.

Last year, on a similar patrol, Canadian soldiers on an American Humvee survived an encounter with a large anti-tank mine.

Defence minister John McCallum, however, has insisted that equipment is not to blame. He said the "extremely large explosion" would have caused "great trouble" to any vehicle.

But there is a difference between "great trouble" and the death of two men. Canada's commander in Afghanistan, Major-General Andrew Lewis, has acknowledged an armoured Humvee might have protected his soldiers.

Although the US military has been investing heavily in Humvees, but they were too expensive for Canada, which began looking at new jeeps five years ago. The government has settled on German-made Mercedes-Benz jeeps as a replacement for the Itlis jeeps. But they are also unarmoured, and appear to be of limited use in a war zone.

Hey Canada - if you want to come out and play with the big boys, better buy better stuff.

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