Tanks and 200 more soldiers going to Afghanistan
After getting final approval from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Hillier has decided to send the following immediately to Afghanistan:
- An infantry company from Valcartier, Quebec;
- A Leopard tank squadron from Edmonton to better protect and enable the Canadian Forces to fight in those areas where Taliban forces have established well-coordinated and determined defences;
- Military engineers to manage reconstruction and development projects;
- A counter-mortar capability to locate Taliban forces that are targeting Canadian Forces installations with indirect mortar fire.
In total, about 450 soldiers and up to 15 tanks will be sent to Afghanistan. At the same time, about 250 headquarters personnel will return to Canada because of changes in the command structure, meaning an increase of 200 troops.
But retired Col. Michel Drapeau told CTV Newsnet that the actual number of personnel could be much higher.
He said a squadron usually has 120 to 125 people. But the tanks will require dozens of people to keep them operating.
"Tanks are large, very sophisticated machines," said Drapeau. "They require a lot of tender loving care. You will need mechanics, you will need supply technicians... So when you add all the support staff to it, and I would estimate it to be in the order of 150 or so, you do the math and you're into the 400 range."
The reinforcements are being sent at the request of the Canadian commanders in Afghanistan. Once the additional forces are in Afghanistan, Canada will have about 2,500 troops in the region. Canadian troops will make up well over 10 per cent of all NATO troops in Afghanistan.
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