Sunday, December 23, 2007

Canada gives the Afghan National Army a Christmas present. 2500 rifles that actually work.

The Afghan National Army is about to get new rifles. Thanks to the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Canadian military has agreed to donate 2,500 surplus C7 rifles to the Afghan National Army, along with ammunition and training.

The decision, made quietly last week, is expected to bring the fledgling Afghan force in line with other NATO countries.

Building capacity among the ANA is the key to Canada's exit strategy from Afghanistan.

In November, a senior Afghan commander told the Canadian Press that better weaponry was crucial to the buildup of the ANA.

Lt.-Col. Shirin Shah Kowbandi said the army's old Soviet-era AK-47s frequently misfire.

At the time, he said Canadians had promised to provide the ANA with "good weapons" but that they had not yet delivered.

A couple of things.

First... it's about time. The expectation that the Afghan National Army would be able to stand to and perform using the worn out old arms was misguided at least and a reprehensible dismissal of what the ANA was actually facing. This move shouldn't have taken so long. If, (and I have some reasons for suggesting otherwise) we weren't intent on properly occupying, along with the US and NATO, a country on which we had imposed a military and political reconfiguration, it was contingent upon all nations involved to properly equip and train the ANA. Instead they have had to complain that they were being handed third-rate crap if they got anything at all. For too long a time the ANA had to fight without body armour, unlike their accompanying NATO and US advisors.

The AK-47s used by the ANA are leftovers from the late Soviet regime. They have sloppy actions, regularly misfire and suffer from gross inaccuracy. In short, we allowed the ANA to fight with garbage that the average NATO soldier wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

Second... where is the money coming from to provide these weapons? A C7 assault rifle, even if "surplus" isn't free. The Harper government has already instructed the Canadian Forces that the cost of the Afghanistan mission will have to be funded from the Defence Budget. That alone is wrong, but if 2500 rifles have to come out of CF inventory without additional funding from cabinet something is going to have to give elsewhere.

Third... when did the CF develop a surplus of C7 rifles?

Did I see "exit strategy" mentioned in that report? But without the much touted future Manley Report, do we even have one?

OK. That was four things.

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