Ms Gillard took a swipe at the media for not focusing on issues of “real concern”, saying there was a “ridiculous” debate about the need for more tanks.
“You may as well send them a submarine,” she said.
Good line PM. I bet we’ll hear about it for a while but it is disingenuous and trivializes the debate.
I’ve heard it all before. Not the submarine bit but people saying tanks are useless in certain theatres. They were never going to work in South Vietnam due to the jungle. You only need to ask an infantryman whose arse was saved by Centurions, including this one, as to how effective the tanks were.
Generals of the arm chair variety are today saying Afghanistan is not tank country and if you look at the mountainous terrain you might tend to agree. However, it isn’t all mountainous as I’ve seen any amount of videos of soldiers patrolling in decidedly flat terrain and if I’ve seen it once then there exists a case for deploying tanks.
The Canadians have deployed their Leopards even though they aren’t air-conditioned likes ours.
This from a US defense site
“The heavily protected direct fire capability of a main battle tank is an invaluable tool in the arsenal of any military. The intensity of recent conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East has shown western militaries that tanks provide protection that cannot be matched by more lightly armoured wheeled vehicles…. [Canada’s existing Leopard C2/1A5] tanks have also provided the Canadian Forces (CF) with the capability to travel to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible to wheeled light armoured vehicles, including Taliban defensive positions.”
The Dutch had their Leopards there as did the Danes while the US do have Abrahams deployed so maybe it isn’t that simple.
Generals are political creatures as well as soldiers and they will be very well aware that the current government doesn’t want to deploy any more soldiers to Afghanistan. So to say “we would like tanks” could be seen as a bad career move. On the other hand, if the government were to say “we are looking at expanding our Afghanistan force to build it up to a independent group and would you like tanks with that? you might get a different answer.
DO we need tanks in Afghanistan or do we want them there? I don’t really know as I don’t know all of the considerations but I do know we are not going to have an open debate about the issue.