Canadian Troops Spending Their Own Money on Equipment


Johnny Utah
#1

Richard Foot, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, March 20, 2006
Excerpt:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Canada's front line combat troops in Afghanistan may belong to a national army, but much of their clothing and equipment on this mission is privately owned -- paid for out of their own pockets -- because the gear supplied by the military is inadequate, soldiers say.

More than a dozen soldiers, who were interviewed during operations this month north of Kandahar, say the non-shooting equipment issued by the military simply isn't comfortable, strong enough or safe enough for this rugged and dangerous mission.

While their actual uniforms are all military-issue, many soldiers say they spent hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars of their own money on everything from desert boots to ammunition vests before coming to Afghanistan.

"I dropped a grand on gear before I came over here," says one non-commissioned officer with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, who asked that his name not be published.

"The stuff the army issues is useless."

While some soldiers do wear their army-issued desert boots, most appear to be wearing their own boots, purchased at a private kit shop back at their base in Edmonton or from mail-order military Web sites. They say the boots handed out by the army are too stiff and heavy for long, multi-day marches over the rugged Afghan terrain.

The army-issued tactical vests -- designed to carry ammunition, grenades, bayonets and other supplies -- are also inadequate, soldiers say. The vests supplied by the army, for example, carry only four magazines of rifle ammunition.

"Whose going to survive on four mags in a firefight?" asks another 1st Battalion soldier. "I carry 10 mags every time I climb out of the LAV [light armoured vehicle]. If we get into a fight with the enemy, four mags aren't going to cut it.

"The army stuff is OK in Canada, but over here your life depends on good gear," he adds.

As a result, most of the troops are wearing a mishmash of privately purchased "tac-vests," boots, rucksacks, cold-weather clothing, and other gear.

And while many infantry troops say they've grown accustomed to providing their own gear, what they can't understand is why they're being treated as what they describe as "second-class citizens" at the base at Kandahar airfield.

Of the 2,200 Canadian military personnel in Kandahar this year, only about 500 are front line combat soldiers. The rest are support troops -- logistics, planning and transport staff, plus supply clerks and other administration workers who, unlike the infantry, rarely leave the relative safety and comfort of this base.

While these rear echelon troops are being housed in dry, semi-private dome tents built upon concrete slabs, Canada's combat troops, also known as the "battle group," are being housed together, hundreds at a time, in three much-hated giant white tents, known by the soldiers as BATs, or "big ass tents."

The BATs offer no privacy. They leak when it rains. And instead of concrete floors, the ground inside is gravel and dirt.

The BATs are also filled with rows of tiny bunk beds, so small and flimsy that many soldiers can't fit on them.

Unlike the housing for the support troops, the infantry BATs are located far from the Canadian e-mail tents and recreation facilities on the base.

"It's fine for guys like us to live in the mud out on operations," says Master Cpl. Keith Prodonick, an experienced front line soldier. "That's what we do. But when I go back to base, I want a dry tent and a bed that doesn't break."

First Battalion soldiers grilled Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's chief of defence staff, about the BAT controversy during his surprise visit with the troops in the field earlier this month.

"The boys were asking Hillier, 'Why do the support people get the good shacks and we get the BATs,' " Master Cpl. Prodonick says. "We don't want better, we want the same as everyone else."

Army officials here say the military is constructing better, more permanent housing for the infantry troops at Kandahar airfield, but the new accommodation isn't likely to be ready until the summer, when the 1st Battalion goes home after its six-month tour.

http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/n...1-b396d87a19ff

This is due to years of neglect, under-funding by former the Liberal Government towards the Canadian Military.

The new Conservative Government will soon start pumping money into the Military so they can afford the proper equipment they need to get the job done.

This is nothing new to Military's, in the U.S. Military Soldiers are facing the same problems with the lack of equipment.
 
Sassylassie
#2
Canadian Troops do this on most of their missions, they just don't draw attention to it. Although my husband is retired Military I still have pen pals and I send care packages in shoe boxes to the searving members to give to the Afghan children.
 
Mogz
#3
Just a few comments from the peanut gallery:

1.

Quote:

While some soldiers do wear their army-issued desert boots, most appear to be wearing their own boots, purchased at a private kit shop back at their base in Edmonton or from mail-order military Web sites. They say the boots handed out by the army are too stiff and heavy for long, multi-day marches over the rugged Afghan terrain.

The desert boots are fine. If you break them in before you deploy, they're all set for when you get in to theatre. The thing that this writer isn't getting across is that the boots bought by the troops are flimsy and will wear down long before the CF issue desert boot does. Military boots are designed for durability, not comfort.

2.

Quote:

The army-issued tactical vests -- designed to carry ammunition, grenades, bayonets and other supplies -- are also inadequate, soldiers say. The vests supplied by the army, for example, carry only four magazines of rifle ammunition.

"Whose going to survive on four mags in a firefight?" asks another 1st Battalion soldier. "I carry 10 mags every time I climb out of the LAV [light armoured vehicle]. If we get into a fight with the enemy, four mags aren't going to cut it.

I agree with what is said. Our tac-vests are utterly amazing, however they don't carry nearly enough ammo. 4 mags (plus one on the weapon) equates to 150 rounds. Most soldiers carry an additional bandolier of ammo (another 150 rounds), however this ammo is not in magazines and needs to be loaded by hand, and not something that can be done in a firefight. When the tac-vest was being designed, the idea was floated to double up the mag pouches, thereby allowing a soldier to carry 8 in the vest and 1 on the weapon. Why this was never implemented is beyond me.

3.
Quote:

Of the 2,200 Canadian military personnel in Kandahar this year, only about 500 are front line combat soldiers. The rest are support troops -- logistics, planning and transport staff, plus supply clerks and other administration workers who, unlike the infantry, rarely leave the relative safety and comfort of this base.

This statement is both misleading and inaccurate. There are not only 500 combat soldiers, or "front line troops" as the article defines them. There are 500 members of the 1st Battalion PPCLI in theatre, not to mention additional infanteers from both the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, as well as combat engineers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, armored recce soldiers from Lord Strathcona's Horse, and gunners from 1 RCHA both with 105mm howitzers and 155mm howitzers. All of these troops are frontline soldiers. Furthermore while the above listed are combat arms, they aren't, as the article describes, the only ones that leave the camp on a regular basis. To support the combat arms in combat, the CF has trades detailed as "combat support". Members of these trades leave the base every time an infantry patrol does. Combat support trades include; Signals, Frontline Medics, and Military Police. Those three trades are out of the camp and on patrol just as much as the combat arms. Look at MCpl Paul Franklin who recently lost both his legs to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. What trade was he? A medic.

4.
Quote:

While these rear echelon troops are being housed in dry, semi-private dome tents built upon concrete slabs, Canada's combat troops, also known as the "battle group," are being housed together, hundreds at a time, in three much-hated giant white tents, known by the soldiers as BATs, or "big ass tents."

I agree here whole-heartedly. The infanteers are getting the shaft at Camp Nathan Smith. Yes they're stuck in the BATs, and while i've never slept in one myself, i'm inclined to think i'd hate it. However, once again the article is misleading. They're not the only ones stuck in the BATs. Each patrol section in Afghanistan has a multitude of trades in it. For example a typical section could include:

Infanteers
Engineers
Signallers
Medics

These sections go out on patrol together and at the end of the day the the signallers and the medics don't say "well, see you boys later" and go off to live in their mods. The section sleeps together, in the BATs.

In summary yeah the combat arms boys are getting dumped on, as per usual. However, contrary to what the article says, they aren't alone. With regard to equipment, yeah sometimes we get the bone, but we're a hell of a lot better off than we were when we landed troops in 'Ghan back in 2001. There's an old saying in the Army that I feel rings true in this situation:

Quote:

Nothing's too good for the troops, and nothing is what they'll get.

 
Johnny Utah
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Mogz

Just a few comments from the peanut gallery:

1.

Quote:

While some soldiers do wear their army-issued desert boots, most appear to be wearing their own boots, purchased at a private kit shop back at their base in Edmonton or from mail-order military Web sites. They say the boots handed out by the army are too stiff and heavy for long, multi-day marches over the rugged Afghan terrain.

The desert boots are fine. If you break them in before you deploy, they're all set for when you get in to theatre. The thing that this writer isn't getting across is that the boots bought by the troops are flimsy and will wear down long before the CF issue desert boot does. Military boots are designed for durability, not comfort.

2.

Quote:

The army-issued tactical vests -- designed to carry ammunition, grenades, bayonets and other supplies -- are also inadequate, soldiers say. The vests supplied by the army, for example, carry only four magazines of rifle ammunition.

"Whose going to survive on four mags in a firefight?" asks another 1st Battalion soldier. "I carry 10 mags every time I climb out of the LAV [light armoured vehicle]. If we get into a fight with the enemy, four mags aren't going to cut it.

I agree with what is said. Our tac-vests are utterly amazing, however they don't carry nearly enough ammo. 4 mags (plus one on the weapon) equates to 150 rounds. Most soldiers carry an additional bandolier of ammo (another 150 rounds), however this ammo is not in magazines and needs to be loaded by hand, and not something that can be done in a firefight. When the tac-vest was being designed, the idea was floated to double up the mag pouches, thereby allowing a soldier to carry 8 in the vest and 1 on the weapon. Why this was never implemented is beyond me.

3.
Quote:

Of the 2,200 Canadian military personnel in Kandahar this year, only about 500 are front line combat soldiers. The rest are support troops -- logistics, planning and transport staff, plus supply clerks and other administration workers who, unlike the infantry, rarely leave the relative safety and comfort of this base.

This statement is both misleading and inaccurate. There are not only 500 combat soldiers, or "front line troops" as the article defines them. There are 500 members of the 1st Battalion PPCLI in theatre, not to mention additional infanteers from both the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, as well as combat engineers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, armored recce soldiers from Lord Strathcona's Horse, and gunners from 1 RCHA both with 105mm howitzers and 155mm howitzers. All of these troops are frontline soldiers. Furthermore while the above listed are combat arms, they aren't, as the article describes, the only ones that leave the camp on a regular basis. To support the combat arms in combat, the CF has trades detailed as "combat support". Members of these trades leave the base every time an infantry patrol does. Combat support trades include; Signals, Frontline Medics, and Military Police. Those three trades are out of the camp and on patrol just as much as the combat arms. Look at MCpl Paul Franklin who recently lost both his legs to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. What trade was he? A medic.

4.
Quote:

While these rear echelon troops are being housed in dry, semi-private dome tents built upon concrete slabs, Canada's combat troops, also known as the "battle group," are being housed together, hundreds at a time, in three much-hated giant white tents, known by the soldiers as BATs, or "big ass tents."

I agree here whole-heartedly. The infanteers are getting the shaft at Camp Nathan Smith. Yes they're stuck in the BATs, and while i've never slept in one myself, i'm inclined to think i'd hate it. However, once again the article is misleading. They're not the only ones stuck in the BATs. Each patrol section in Afghanistan has a multitude of trades in it. For example a typical section could include:

Infanteers
Engineers
Signallers
Medics

These sections go out on patrol together and at the end of the day the the signallers and the medics don't say "well, see you boys later" and go off to live in their mods. The section sleeps together, in the BATs.

In summary yeah the combat arms boys are getting dumped on, as per usual. However, contrary to what the article says, they aren't alone. With regard to equipment, yeah sometimes we get the bone, but we're a hell of a lot better off than we were when we landed troops in 'Ghan back in 2001. There's an old saying in the Army that I feel rings true in this situation:

Quote:

Nothing's too good for the troops, and nothing is what they'll get.

PM Harper said the Conservatives will start pumping much needed money into the Military to give them the proper equipment they need so I am taking him at his word.

The Military as a whole is suffering from Neglect and Under-funding such as the Sea King Helicopters which still have not been replaced. I recall in 1999 during the Kosovo War, Canadian F-18's had to borrow spare parts to keep them flying during the War. Then theres the Subs and the issues with them.

I do recall a story in Afghanistan, the U.S. Military was in awe with the Canadian Military's Coyote Recon Vehicle, is this true?
 
Mogz
#5
Yeah aspects of our Forces are hurting, but we're a lot better off than we used to be.

The Seakings needed to be replaced 20 years ago, and thankfully now we're getting Cyclones starting this fall.

The CF-18 issue you refer to wasn't parts, but add-ons for their targeting systems to make them compatible with the U.S. armaments we'd purchased.

Our subs are a ****ing joke. Only the Liberals would spends millions on a vessel that isn't seaworthy.

With regard to the Coyote, yes the U.S., and the World are in awe of that vehicle. When the Americans deployed to Afghanistan and found out we'd be joining them, they requested we bring at least twelve (12) Coyote Recce Variants with us. Ever since 2001 we've maintained an armored recce squadron in the Country and any nation they work with loves the vehicles. The French plan to put the order in to buy 500 Coyotes in the fall of 2006, and the U.S., already having bought the LAV-III plans from us for the Stryker, will be purcashing an unsaid quantity of Coyotes in the near future. The aspect that has enamored the World to the Coyote is it's balance. Throughout the World recce vehicles have had one or more of the following flaws:

1. Poor mobility
2. Poor Armor
3. Poor Firepower

The former Canadian recon vehicle, the Lynx, was a tracked vehicle that had decent armor and firepower, yet lacked mobility due to its treads. The U.S., like Canada did with the Lynx, uses the tracked Bradley A3 as their chief recon vehicle, and it too lacks mobility. Other aspects of the U.S. military use Humvee's which have excellent mobility, yet lack both firepower and armor. The British use the Sabre (much like the Scimitar), and it too runs on treads, however has a decent maingun and good armor. The Coyote changed all this. They put the recon suite on a LAV-III chasis (which has excellent armor and mobility) and gave it a 25mm Bushmaster chaingun, in addition to grenade launchers and a co-axil C-6 7.62mm GPMG. The Coyote has a top road speed (if I remember correctly) of 100km, something no tracked vehicle can reach, and the sloping armor package can stop an RPG round in addition to small arms fire. Lastly the 25mm chaingun and the weapons I listed above can wreck havoc on light targets from hundreds of meters away.
 
Johnny Utah
#6
INDEPTH: AFGHANISTAN
Canada's equipment
CBC News Online | Feb. 15, 2006

Canadian forces working with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan are using a number of different vehicles and pieces of equipment to carry out their duties. See below for a look at what's being used:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/af...equipment.html