Samstag, 26. Juni 2010

Afghanistan - Still Ill-equipped?

This is a debate going on for quite a while now and DER SPIEGEL is adding the latest news on this part of the Afghanistan war-effort: The German Army still operates insufficient equipment in Afghanistan. On April 15th four German soldiers were killed in a firefight with insurgents in the Northern part of Afghanistan, partly due to insufficiently armoured vehicles (the vehicle in question being the YAK).

The YAK is a vehicle often being used by German medics and belongs to the more recent equipments that made their way to the German Armed Forces. One of its virtues is its light armour in contrast to the lighter UNIMOG the army had used as an emergency vehicle before - though the YAK would still qualify as a truck and not an APC. I remember a colonel from the medic rapid reaction force telling me a year ago at a panel I have had with a couple of parliamentarians that the YAK was a pretty good vehicle and that he believed the troops under his command would be well protected by it. Apparently though, the truck needs some improvement. However, it will never protect its crew against RPG-fire.

What we need to keep in mind is this: there will always be a trade-off between armour and protection on the one hand and deployability and weight on the other. In this case insufficient equipment is not due to a lack of effort. The YAK was introduced precisely because the medics needed upgraded protective vehicles. The disturbing news is something else: Medics have become a target, I've heard officers complain that they had to camouflage the red crosses on the trucks - they were attracting deliberate Taliban fire.

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