Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Putting The Afghan Army On Wheels

May 6, 2008:  Over the last three years, the Afghan Army got its wheels back. The pre-2001 Taliban Afghan Army rode a motley collection of Russian cast-offs, and commercial trucks. The new Afghan Army, which began recruiting in 2002, inherited this collection of vehicles, and found them inadequate. So in 2005, the Afghan Army began getting the first of some 5,000 Ford F 350 SORV (Severe off road vehicle) pickup trucks. These four wheel drive vehicles are based on Fords F 250/350 commercial pick up, which has been the best selling line of pickup trucks in the U.S. since the 1980s. Costing about $40,000 each, the 4.5 ton vehicle can carry about two tons of personnel (up to 11 people) and cargo, and tow up to eight tons. It has a 38 gallon fuel tank. These are being maintained by a foreign contractor, RM Asia, that maintains truck fleets throughout the region. The contractor brought in technical and management people that it could not find in Afghanistan, and began training Afghans to take over from the more expensive expatriates. Five service centers were built around the country.

In 2006, the Afghan army began getting the first of  2,781 trucks, identical to the ones used by the U.S. Army. The “Medium Tactical Vehicles” (MTV) come in two sizes; 2.5 ton capacity, and five ton. There are four major variations be purchased by the Afghans; general transport (the most common); a fuel tanker; water tanker; and recovery (tow/repair). The Afghans could have saved money and bought civilian grade trucks. But the MTVs are built to travel cross country, and in nasty terrain, without getting torn up. Many roads in Afghanistan, would qualify as “cross country” in most other nations. So the extra expense will end up being cheaper in the long run. RM Asia also helps with the maintenance of these vehicles.

The Afghan Army also received 79 second hand American M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs). A years worth of spare parts are included, as well as training for operators, and mechanics who will repair the vehicles. The M113 is the most widely used APC in the world, and is popular because of its ease of use, and maintainability. Some foreign contractors were also brought in to help with the maintenance here as well.

The Afghan Army this has a fleet of some 7,000 vehicles to support its current strength of 50,000 troops. This will rise to 70,000 in the next two years.