Author Topic: Two Polish helicopters to start ferrying Canadians this summer: minister  (Read 3217 times)

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Offline Colin P

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I thought the timing is interesting as June 6th is D-day and the Free Polish Forces and Canada have a good history of working together during WWII

Two Polish helicopters to start ferrying Canadians this summer: minister
June 6, 2008 - 0:16 pm

By: Murray Brewster, THE CANADIAN PRESS

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - It will be later this summer before Poland makes two Mi-17 helicopters available to transport hard-pressed Canadian troops around the battlefield in Kandahar.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski says the transports will be available to help out "as soon as we complete our deployment" of reinforcements, which are going to eastern Afghanistan.

The former Warsaw Pact adversary is one of the few European NATO members that has increased its troop commitment to the war-ravaged country, bringing its total number of boots on the ground to 1,600 soldiers.

Eight Soviet-style helicopters are being deployed with the troops - four Mi-17 transport helicopters and four gunships to protect them.

Polish special forces units are operating in Kandahar and will also be using the helicopters.

"Our political will is that they should be (available) by request at the disposal of Canada," Sikorsky told reporters at Kandahar Airfield on Friday.

"Mobility, I'm told, is crucial."

But he added that further questions should be answered by the "military people."

As far back as the spring of 2006, Canadian commanders in Afghanistan had identified the need for helicopters to get troops off the explosive-strewn roads of Kandahar province.

Routine troops movements and re-supply missions are run over the roads where Taliban militants frequently plant home-made bombs and mines, as well as lay down small-arms ambushes.

The absence of battlefield helicopters was a crucial recommendation of the Manley commission report, which laid the foundation for the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan until 2011.

First proposed in the spring of 2006, the Conservative government has struggled to acquire the helicopters it wanted. That summer, the Defence Department identified the Boeing CH-47 Chinooks as the preferred aircraft and began negotiation with the U.S. aircraft giant.

The $4.2 billion program to purchase 16 'F' series Chinooks - the latest, most advanced model - has been fraught with delays.

In order to meet the February 2009 deadline to implement the independant panel's recommendations, National Defence was forced to strike a $375 million deal with the Pentagon to buy six Chinook 'D' model helicopters from the U.S. Army, in a purchase separate from its initial order.

Those helicopters won't be available until late this year or early next year. In the meantime, Canadian troops will have to rely on other nations, including Poland, for transport.

Sikorksy visited Kandahar for talks with Canadian military and civilian officials about how to run a provincial reconstruction base, or PRT.

Poland will be taking over a U.S. reconstruction base in eastern Afghanistan and has been seeking advice.

Canada's civilian representative in Kandahar, Ellisa Golberg, said her staff told Skirosky that his government should "invest the time and energy to really think out what kind of financial resources, what kind of policy resources are required to do a PRT."

http://www.news1130.com/news/international/article.jsp?content=w060662A


Offline Colin P

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