Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cut Off

You can only spin this one so far and then reality comes crashing down. Here's the way the National Post gilds the lily:

Canadian air drops 'save lives', avoid risky Afghan roads

The spin follows:

Canada has begun making dramatic air drops from CC-130 Hercules aircraft to troops in hostile territory to spare the lives of convoy crews that would otherwise face a long and perilous land journey to carry out the same mission.

In order to keep the enemy guessing, the flight profiles and drop points always vary, as do the timings for such runs, which can also be conducted at night. Although Canada made a few such air drops to troops here last year, doing so regularly only became possible last month when several Canadian Hercules were based at Kandahar for the first time. Before that they were located at an airfield several hours away in the Middle East.

What's wrong with this picture? It's an admission that we can't even maintain enough security between our garrison and outposts to permit overland resupply. How in hell are we supposed to make the Afghan villagers believe they're secure from the Taliban when we need air drops to supply our own soldiers in the field?

If you don't keep your logistics routes open, you're cut off. You're yielding control over the territory between your garrison and your outposts to the enemy. What are we going to do if they start picking off the vulnerable, lumbering Hercules prop-transports?

This may mean one thing to an armed forces press officer and a willing dupe from CanWest and quite another to the insurgents on the ground where the convoys no longer run. The Taliban know quite well what it means. It's a game they've been playing against armies from the west for centuries.

We're not at the point of Khe Sanh or Dien Bien Phu, at least not yet. But we have surrendered control of our communications lines with our forces in the field. This may not be a defeat, yet, but it is a tactical reversal and there's no pretending otherwise. Remember, we were supposed to be securing Kandahar province. That's why we're there, eh?


WE Speak said...

Funny, I don't see any mention in any of the articles saying convoys are stopping. The air drops simply provide another way to deliver supplies to forward operating bases. If we had heavy lift choppers like the British, Americans and Dutch, we would be utilizing these for most of the resupply missions.

The regular convoys were a security risk because of the "regular" nature of them. No matter how often the routes and times were varied there are only so many ways in and out of Kandahar. The frequency required to supply the bases by convoy coupled with regular supply requirements left the convoys highly vulnerable.

Air drops will now allow for another variation in supply. Along with the beginning of the air drops, the new mine detection and clearance systems have now arrived in Kandahar (Husky,Buffalo and Cougars).

Far from the "tactical reversal" you claim, the CF is solidifying and increasing it's efforts in the province. The Hercs taking some of the resupply strain off the convoys will allow them to focus more on patrolling and less on resupply.

The Mound of Sound said...

If we can't even secure the land routes to our outposts, how are we going to secure the villages to keep them from falling under Taliban rule, the essential target of counterinsurgency? We're told that we're taking back the Kandahar province countryside from the insurgents. When we're fielding one combat rifleman for every 30 sq. kms. of territory what are the chances of that happening? I'm not convinced that resorting to air drops demonstrates any improvement. Let's face it, we've been at this for several years already.