Posted By Deebow • [November 21, 2010]
I am guessing that I can add this gem from the WaPo to the list....
US Deploying Heavily Armored Battle Tanks For First Time in Afghan War...
So, as part of rendering my one man only opinion on this, take a seat here next to me in the Way-Back Machine and let me show you a little of why I think this is a monumentally bad idea.
This is the best road I drove on in Eastern Afghanistan
And this was the the worst....
The pictures and videos I have (in fact, I might put one of them up on my newly created Facebook page) could fill a hard drive (in fact, they do) of how "roads" and "routes" were not interchangeable and how inhospitable the terrain is. We could kill a half-rack of your favorite barley-pop on the war stories that go with these pictures.
But in fairness to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, I read the article in order to get the whole picture and there were two quotes that leaped off the page at me.
"The tanks bring awe, shock and firepower," the officer said. "It's pretty significant."
Well, yes, militarily that is true. I think however the trade off in the lack of mobility, narrow parameters of available terrain that they can be advantageously used in Afghanistan is a mighty big offset.
"Tanks give you immediate, protected firepower and mobility to address a threat that's beyond the range" of machine guns that are mounted on the mine-resistant trucks that most U.S. troops use in Afghanistan, said David Johnson, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp. who co-wrote a recent paper on the use of tanks in counterinsurgency operations.
I haven't read Mr. Johnson's paper on this subject, but I hope that he also talked about the MASSIVE amount of battlefield support in the form of repair, refit, rearming, and refueling that these machines need in order to function properly. Ask a treadhead and they will quote you chapter and verse about what is required to keep these machines functioning and in battle ready condition, along with the "tail" that sharpens, services and maintains the "tooth" at the front end. The footprint for this is much larger than an infantry unit of the same size.
Now I can't speak specifically to the terrain in Helmand, Kandahar, and the areas located in the south where the focus of the Marines efforts are, but I know that unless those Turkish engineers have been working triple overtime to get the major roads paved that I was told was their main effort in the country as part of NATO when I was there in 06/07, major movements of armor would be slow, cumbersome, and a huge waste of time.
In addition, everything that is needed would have to be moved either overland from Germany along some Eastern European route stretching to Krygystan, where they can be moved by air (wow, what a headache) one piece at a time (C-5 Galaxy can carry only 1 M1 Abrams at a time) or moved via ocean transport and then processed through a port in Pakistan (and they are not what I would call our friends) and then moved over mountains and into the country.
Or maybe I am way off base on this one. Maybe this will be the knife in the heart of insurgency in the South because we can use these machines to engage the Taliban at great distances without significant danger to our forces. The US Amred Forces could get those tanks into the fight, I have no doubt of that.
All battles involve fire, maneuver and shock effect. I just know that with the trade offs that come with armor, and the ground truth of the harshness of the terrain there, that if they had asked me, the answer would have been a resounding "NO." I wouldn't have wanted them while I was there. I wanted more tubed arty and more CAS.
For my money, put more "mobile, agile and hostile" guns in the fight that need less to move, maintain, and support and close with the enemy and destroy them.
But I am guessing that this is why the Puzzle Palace didn't ask my opinion....