Wary Taliban steering clear of Canadian soldiers: They ough

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by Red Shrek, Mar 1, 2006.

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  1. Cornwall Standard Freeholder (Ontario)

    February 28, 2006 Tuesday
    Final Edition

    SECTION: WORLD; Pg. 18

    LENGTH: 1016 words

    HEADLINE: 'They ought to be afraid': Wary Taliban steering clear of Canadian soldiers

    BYLINE: Chris Wattie, CanWest News Service

    DATELINE: KANDAHAR, Afghanistan


    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - They call us sura espiyan, Pashtun for "red dogs," and our LAV III armoured vehicles are bala, or "monsters."

    After two weeks of probing and testing the Canadian soldiers who have been patrolling their territory in southern Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents in the dangerous hills and mountains around Kandahar have learned to be wary of the soldiers with the Maple Leaf on their shoulders.

    And with a Canadian general to take command today of Afghanistan's six southernmost provinces, nearly 220,000 square kilometres of the most rugged and dangerous terrain in the country, senior officers with the Canadian battle group say the Taliban have good reason to steer clear of the Canadians.

    "They ought to be afraid," said Major Bill Fletcher, the commander of the Canadian battle group's Charlie Company, nicknamed the Grizzlies. "Our presence alone should be enough to make them think twice."

    The "red-dogs" label was meant as an insult - military intelligence officers and local Afghans say the Taliban call Americans Sara Khara or "red donkeys" - but it also carries more than a little respect, since many of the dogs around Kandahar are huge Afghan hounds, bred for fighting.

    Fletcher's unit will be part of a joint brigade of Canadian, British and Dutch troops which will spread across the southern half of Afghanistan, home to the Taliban, their al-Qaida allies, gangs of drug-runners and hundreds of local warlords.

    Brig.-Gen. David Fraser will take formal command of the multinational brigade in a ceremony today, but the 2,200 Canadians under his command have already started patrolling deep into their area of responsibility. British soldiers have begun to arrive in Helmand province, a centre of poppy growing and the opium trade just west of Kandahar, and a Dutch battalion is due to hit the ground in the early spring.

    The Canadians have already pushed into the districts north of Kandahar and begun forcing the insurgents further back into the mountains.

    In response, the Taliban have launched a handful of attacks against the Canadians - roadside bombings, rocket-propelled grenade attacks and attempted ambushes in the rough hills and mountains north of the city of Kandahar - which Fletcher said were likely attempts to test the new coalition soldiers in the area.

    A roadside bomb planted two weeks ago barely dented a Canadian LAV III, the 17-tonne armoured troop carrier the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group is using to patrol isolated mountain roads, and left four soldiers with only minor injuries. When the insurgents attempted to plant a more powerful bomb the next day, the Canadians caught the bomber in the act and drove him off with machine-gun fire.

    An attack on a Canadian base north of Kandahar a few days later was met with an immediate barrage of artillery "illumination rounds" and rifle fire that sent the Taliban gunmen fleeing.

    And an attempted ambush this weekend just outside the main coalition base failed when a roadside bomb did not detonate and a rocket-propelled grenade left one soldier with minor wounds.

    This summer, the mission will switch from American command - part of Operation Enduring Freedom - to being part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Taliban leaders expected the NATO soldiers to be easier opponents than the Americans.

    But weapons such as the new M777 long-range howitzer and the well-armed LAV III have made an impression on the Afghans as well as the well-trained Canadian troops.

    Col. Chris Vernon, the British chief of staff for the multinational brigade, said: "We are keen to dispel the notion that the Americans are leaving and that what is replacing them will be weaker," he said.

    "Clearly, the Canadians are not weaker."

    Vernon said the hand-off of authority to NATO is not "an American cut and run. A lot of the combat power in the area is still U.S."

    "They're still a big part of this coalition."

    But now, the Canadians are moving into the front lines.

    Lt.-Col. Ian Hope, commander of the 950-strong Canadian battle group code-named Task Force Orion, has divided his force into three parts: two companies of mechanized infantry will patrol the dangerous area north and east of Kandahar and another company will run the provincial reconstruction team in the city of Kandahar and act as a mobile reserve - a quick reaction force which can be rushed to trouble spots.

    Each of his line companies: Alpha Company, nicknamed the Red Devils, and The Grizzlies of Charlie Company, are drawn from 1st Battalion PPCLI, reinforced by the guns of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, military police, engineers, civil-military co-operation cells and other support units.

    That has swelled the ranks of the two line companies from about 100 soldiers to nearly 200, creating a pair of "mini-battle groups" to patrol the vast area for which the Canadians are responsible.

    In the coming weeks the Canadians will expand their patrol area even more, sending Fletcher's soldiers east to the Afghan-Pakistan border, another hotbed of Taliban and warlord activity. "There's a whole ridgeline through the area that pretty much delineates the Afghan-Pakistan border and their lines of movement between their sanctuaries and wherever they're basing their operations in the rest of Afghanistan," he said. "We're going to be trying to interdict the enemy's movements . . . we want to restrict their freedom to manoeuvre."

    The Canadians will establish forward operating bases, or FOBs, in the centre of their patrol area, a permanent presence designed to convince local residents the coalition troops are here to stay and to intimidate the Taliban.

    "By our presence we'll be disrupting their movements . . . and instilling confidence in the local leaders that the bad guys can't come in and coerce the population," said Fletcher.

    Vernon said the long-term goal is "marginalizing the Taliban," forcing them out of regions where they once operated openly and pushing them further away from populated areas. "That will hearten the local population," he said. "Which will further marginalize the Taliban."

    Photo: CP photo; MAKING AN IMPRESSION Second-Lieutenant Kelly Catton of Dundurn, Sask., speaks with reporters in Kandahar Sunday, one day after his legs were wounded by shrapnel in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. The Taliban has good reason to be wary of Canadian troops, according a Canadian general.

    LOAD-DATE: February 28, 2006
  2. What is the impact of calling yourself "Red Devils" in A Stan? OK, so it goes back to WW2 but it is hardly winning the hearts and minds in this op.
  3. yep, i bet the cannuks are more worried about a certain 'coalition partners' fighter pilots then the terrs.
  4. :D LAV III vehicles. Seems to me they might fit into the sandpit and save some lives. That is a hint Bliar :twisted: :twisted:
    Get some time in and feel the pain :twisted:
  5. Canadians know their stuff. They'll do the job just as well as British/American armed forces, probably better.

    Hats off to them.
  6. Lost 8 last day... No full details, yet.. 1 Canuck dead, 3 critical, 4 walking wounded in Afghanistan.. not sure if it was vehicular accident or IED...
  7. I've trained with the PPCLI many moons ago and sure they are as well trained today. Still the author's skill at writing up the lads falls a little short (lacks a bit of punch):

    A roadside bomb planted two weeks ago barely dented a Canadian LAV III, the 17-tonne armoured troop carrier the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group is using to patrol isolated mountain roads, and left four soldiers with only minor injuries. When the insurgents attempted to plant a more powerful bomb the next day, the Canadians caught the bomber in the act and drove him off with machine-gun fire.
    An attack on a Canadian base north of Kandahar a few days later was met with an immediate barrage of artillery "illumination rounds" and rifle fire that sent the Taliban gunmen fleeing.

    I can only imagine that if the report is accurate they could only respond with illum rds due to ROE limitations. They may want to loosen those rules and get a few HE down range.
  8. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    Should be intresting to see what happens when the Maroon Machine turns up then. And alongside them the guys with the BlueRedBlue flashes.

    Think I'll go browse the web and see what a LAV III looks like, then go harang the local MP! yes I know it probably won't achieve much but at least I will have tried and besides which its good sport winding him up. Apparently he isn in full support of the war in Iraq but when questioned as to why can't seem to put forward a cogent argument as to why its a good idea.
  9. The LAVIII is the same (more or less) as the Stryker being used (and hammered in Iraq). IIRC they are now only being used in safer areas having been replaced by Bradleys in the dodgier ones. Bradley can and is up armoured. The design of the Stryker makes it awkward to uparmour due to its hight, weight, ground pressure etc. Amongst its other small weaknesses reactive armour cannot be fitted as the original armour cannot withstand the forces generated, is only proof up to 7.62 it has a massive turning circle. All in all a bit pants really for this type of op but great for peace keeping in say East Timor where the threat is low.
  10. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    ah Warrior it is then for the timebeing! So what do you rekon to the chances of an upgrade to Warrior II for our guys instead of just flogging it to overseas forces.
  11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14284-2005Mar30.html

    Study Faults Army Vehicle
    Use of Transport in Iraq Puts Troops at Risk, Internal Report Says

    By R. Jeffrey Smith
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page A01

    The Army has deployed a new troop transport vehicle in Iraq with many defects, putting troops there at unexpected risk from rocket-propelled grenades and raising questions about the vehicle's development and $11 billion cost, according to a detailed critique in a classified Army study obtained by The Washington Post.

    The vehicle is known as the Stryker, and 311 of the lightly armored, wheeled vehicles have been ferrying U.S. soldiers around northern Iraq since October 2003. The Army has been ebullient about the vehicle's success there, with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, telling the House Armed Services Committee last month that "we're absolutely enthusiastic about what the Stryker has done."

    But the Army's Dec. 21 report, drawn from confidential interviews with operators of the vehicle in Iraq in the last quarter of 2004, lists a catalogue of complaints about the vehicle, including design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are "getting worse not better." Although many soldiers in the field say they like the vehicle, the Army document, titled "Initial Impressions Report -- Operations in Mosul, Iraq," makes clear that the vehicle's military performance has fallen short.

    The internal criticism of the vehicle appears likely to fuel new controversy over the Pentagon's decision in 2003 to deploy the Stryker brigade in Iraq just a few months after the end of major combat operations, before the vehicle had been rigorously tested for use across a full spectrum of combat.

    The report states, for example, that an armoring shield installed on Stryker vehicles to protect against unanticipated attacks by Iraqi insurgents using low-tech weapons works against half the grenades used to assault it. The shield, installed at a base in Kuwait, is so heavy that tire pressure must be checked three times daily. Nine tires a day are changed after failing, the report says; the Army told The Post the current figure is "11 tire and wheel assemblies daily."

    "The additional weight significantly impacts the handling and performance during the rainy season," says the report, which was prepared for the Center for Army Lessons Learned in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "Mud appeared to cause strain on the engine, the drive shaft and the differentials," none of which was designed to carry the added armor.

    Commanders' displays aboard the vehicles are poorly designed and do not work; none of the 100 display units in Iraq are being used because of "design and functionality shortfalls," the report states. The vehicle's computers are too slow and overheat in desert temperatures or freeze up at critical moments, such as "when large units are moving at high speeds simultaneously" and overwhelm its sensors.

    The main weapon system, a $157,000 grenade launcher, fails to hit targets when the vehicle is moving, contrary to its design, the report states. Its laser designator, zoom, sensors, stabilizer and rotating speed all need redesign; it does not work at night; and its console display is in black and white although "a typical warning is to watch for a certain color automobile," the report says. Some crews removed part of the launchers because they can swivel dangerously toward the squad leader's position.

    The vehicle's seat belts cannot be readily latched when troops are in their armored gear, a circumstance that contributed to the deaths of three soldiers in rollover accidents, according to the report. On the vehicle's outside, some crews have put sand-filled tin cans around a gunner's hatch that the report says is ill-protected.

    Eric Miller, senior defense investigator at the independent Project on Government Oversight, which obtained a copy of the internal Army report several weeks ago, said the critique shows that "the Pentagon hasn't yet learned that using the battlefield as a testing ground costs lives, not just spiraling dollars."

    Asked about the report, Army officials who direct the Stryker program said they are working to fix some flaws; they also said they were unaware of some of the defects identified in the critique. "We're very proud of the Stryker team," said Lt. Col. Frederick J. Gellert, chief of the Army's Stryker Brigade Combat Team Integration Branch in Washington, but "it hasn't been something that's problem-divorced."

    According to the latest Army figures, 17 soldiers in the Stryker combat brigade have died in Iraq in 157 bomb explosions, but no delineation is made for those who perished inside the vehicle and those who were standing outside it; an additional five soldiers have died in two rollovers. No current figure was provided for those who perished in grenade attacks, although one officer said he thought it was fewer than a handful.

    Neither the lessons-learned report nor more recent Army data state how many soldiers have been wounded while inside the vehicle. The report states that in one case, a soldier was struck by shrapnel that penetrated both the vehicle's armor and his own body armor; in another case, an entire crew escaped with minor injuries after a vehicle sustained nine grenade hits.

    The criticisms of the Stryker's first performance in combat seem likely to give new arguments to critics of the Army's decision in 1999 to move away from more heavily armored vehicles that move on metal tracks and embrace a generation of lighter, more comfortable vehicles operated at higher speed on rubber tires.

    Senior Army officers in Iraq, like those at the Pentagon, have been surprised by the intensity of hostilities there since mid-2003, and lately some officers have said they depend on heavy armor to protect their soldiers in urban warfare, even though tanks in Iraq have also suffered unexpected damage.

    But Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, the Army's director of force development, said that when he rode in the Stryker for the first time, he "marveled at how much nicer it was" than riding in a Bradley vehicle or an older troop transport, the M113, which he likened to being inside an aluminum trash can being beaten by a hammer. He said the Stryker was "amazingly smooth" and quiet by comparison.

    In a report completed at the time of deployment, the Pentagon's operational test and evaluation office rated the Stryker vehicles sent to Iraq "effective and survivable only with limitations for use in small-scale contingencies." Congressional auditors at the General Accounting Office in December 2003 said the first brigade "did not consistently demonstrate its capabilities, indicating both strengths and weaknesses."

    Independent groups and a loose-knit group of retired Army officers who dislike the Stryker vehicle have alleged that the Stryker's 2003 deployment was motivated partly by the desire of the Army and the manufacturer, General Dynamics, to build congressional support for buying additional brigades. But Speakes said that was nonsense and that the brigade was deployed in Iraq simply because the Army needed it.

    Researchers Bob Lyford and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.
  12. still more protection than wolf wmik or snatch though hasent it ?
  13. Don't know what the SNATCH will stop round wise and I am not sure it would be too bright to post it in this forum.

    Up to 12.7mm of steel is what keeps the elements at bay in the Stryker. Except in some areas where it is a lot less and won't keep 7.62 at bay after reading a bit more.

    So offers protection up to 7.62 in some areas. And is a FO biiiiiiig target!