No tanks, we don’t need ’em

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.


  • Let’s see, bad guys behind massive mud brick walls.

    Rifle and MG fire useless, M203s just puffs of smoke against walls, mortars ineffective and like arty too imprecise with adjacent dwellings possibly occupied by civvies.

    What to do????

    How about HESH rounds fired from a heavily armoured and manoeuvrable gun platform followed up with canister and sustained MG fire from said gun platform?

    Might do the trick…


    Whoever pushed the no tank line to Gillard is a fool.

    “One HESH round from the Leopard C2 can punch a hole in excess of five by five meters through a compound wall, penetrating structures with reduced collateral damage to surrounding infrastructure and less risk to our dismounted soldiers. While the importance of infantry in the fight-through and deliberate clearance of objective areas is irrefutable, it makes little sense to send dismounted soldiers onto an enemy objective without first eliminating known resistance from a distance with HESH. The tank squadrons have been able to kill numerous insurgents at ranges of 150-3800 meters while mitigating the exposure of our dismounted infantry soldiers to enemy direct fire. Both the coaxially mounted and anti-aircraft configured 7.62 GPMGs mounted on the Leopards have been used to engage and suppress dismounted insurgents at close range.”

    Major Trevor Cadieu
    Canadian Army

  • “how effective the tanks were”
    Agreed, after witnessing what they did to bunkers we encountered in April 70.
    In any event, what’s the point of owning these assets if they’re not used to protect diggers?

  • This rather stirring clip shows Canadian tanks and engineer vehicles in Afghanistan – there is one shot of a Leopard 2 covering troops from a hide on a mountain side. With an effective range of well over 4000 metres it makes good 120mm ‘sniper’ coverage.

  • The old ‘tanks are not effective in [INSERT TERRAIN OF CHOICE] goes back to WW2 Pacific, where it turned out that they were very effective when properly employed.
    Given that we have them, I see no reason not to send a Sqn over and give them a chance to do some good. If nothing else, I suspect an M1 or 2 would add a fair bit of intimidation to any given unit.

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