Nato puzzled by Afghan army’s demands for tanks

Published: January 9, 2013
Afghan army has demanded that the departing Nato forces equip them with drones, aircrafts and tanks.

Afghan army has demanded that the departing Nato forces equip them with drones, aircrafts and tanks. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KABUL: A senior international alliance officer in Afghanistan questioned Wednesday why the local army, which is due to take responsibility for security next year, has demanded tanks to fight insurgents.

US-led Nato combat troops will withdraw by the end of 2014, leaving Afghan forces to battle Taliban militants who use roadside bombs, suicide attacks and other guerrilla tactics to oppose the Kabul government.

“We are making a counter-insurgency force and we have our Afghan partners asking for things we would call ‘high-end war fighting’ – tanks and what have you,” Australian Brigadier Adam Findlay told reporters.

Findlay, deputy chief of operations at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, said army officers were influenced by the experience of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“We think (the demand for tanks) is because of them defaulting to a previous Soviet model and what they experienced particularly as young men,” he said.

“What we have to have is a discussion about ‘Why are you defaulting to those kinds of items when we, as western countries, don’t see them as central equipment for a counter-insurgency fight?'”

Findlay’s comments came as President Hamid Karzai began a visit to the United States, where he will lobby for further increases in cash and equipment for the Afghan army and police as they prepare to stand alone against the Taliban.

Afghan officials were quoted last week as also requesting sophisticated surveillance balloons, unmanned drones and aircraft to strengthen their developing military capability.

“We are aware of the shortfalls in the air force, we are trying to rectify them but that will go past the end of the ISAF mission,” Findlay said.

After 2014, the United States may keep a “residual force” of US soldiers in Afghanistan to ensure that Al-Qaeda cannot make a comeback and again use the country as a safe haven.

But officials in Washington have also suggested that US troops may withdraw completely, heightening concern that Afghanistan could descend into turmoil with its many warring factions taking up arms.

Findlay said that militants killed or wounded more than 3,500 Afghan civilians last year — with 2,500 of the casualties caused by guerrilla-style bomb attacks.

He added that the Afghan national security forces (ANSF) had received nearly $10 billion of equipment since a US-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime in 2001.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Enlightened
    Jan 9, 2013 - 10:52PM

    Afghan army is anticipating to fight both Taliban and Pakistan army.


  • Sterry
    Jan 9, 2013 - 10:59PM

    The reason the Afghan aremy wants tanks is to cause further problems for Pakistan and to do the bidding of their Indian masters. Otherwise the Afghan army runs away at the first sight of any trouble. Remember the presidential guard of Karzai running away when there was a bombing in Kabul. The only reason the Soviets were evicted from Afghanistan was due to the presence and support of thousands of Pakistani volunteers who fought while most Afghanis were to busy smuggling themselves abroad to seek asylum.The tens of billions of dollars in military equipment has not helped the Afghan army because they are themselves plagued with the problem of institutionalized corruption like all segments of that society.


  • Rex Minor
    Jan 9, 2013 - 11:56PM

    They are asking for Tanks on behalf of the Taliban high command, which is due to take over the country defences once the yanks leave.

    Rex Minor


  • Jim Jones
    Jan 10, 2013 - 12:42AM

    They also need artillery to fight back against Pakistani bombardments.


  • gp65.
    Jan 10, 2013 - 12:45AM

    @Sterry: “Otherwise the Afghan army runs away at the first sight of any trouble”

    Like the Pakistani army – eh? The only people the Pakistani army has defeated are its own politicians.


  • Jan 10, 2013 - 1:04AM

    @sterry could you please name one enemy in the history of Pakistan who it has defeated militarily ? Only one please!!!
    Except it’s own armless people,no one else that’s the answer.
    And where we’re your volunteers when Bangladesh was breaking? When you tried for Kashmir ? Any answer for that!!!


  • GT Road
    Jan 10, 2013 - 2:25AM

    They want tanks so that the Taliban will have something to blow up once NATO/ISAF leave.

    @gp65, @truth: The fact that Pakistan exists is proof enough of countless Indian defeats.


  • Super Star
    Jan 10, 2013 - 12:03PM

    Remember even though the US army might leave the US drones will forever be hovering around to blow up the Taliban who would come out of their hiding rat holes in Pakistan


  • Enlightened
    Jan 10, 2013 - 8:06PM

    You have hit the bulls eye. Simply superb analysis using few words.


  • Sterry
    Jan 10, 2013 - 9:36PM

    @Truth: I see the Indian trolls forget their own history. Pakistan gave better than it got in both 1947 and 1965 despite being outmanned and outgunned. If the prowess of Pakistani troops is in question for you, just ask independent western analysis of Pakistani pilots and soldiers. As for 1971, you know only too well that Pakistan was imbroiled in a civil war that India took advantage of and helped engineer. No army – even the Pakistani army can fight with one hand tied behind its back as the Pak troops did in 1971. And yes, we all know Indira Gandhi said that India’s actions of 1971 erased 1000 years of Muslim rule over South Asia but when will you guys just get over your anti Pakistan obsession?


  • Sterry
    Jan 10, 2013 - 9:56PM

    @Zalmai: How predicatable that an Afghani would try to disown the obvious and be supported by his Indian masters. Dalhors in fact did a lot of the fighting while gedaieekhors ran away to Western nations to live on welfare. A good number of Pakistanis both Pashtun and Punjabi fought to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets – just go to any number of villages in rural Punjab to see injured men who bravely fought and this information is available in US and Western sources. Unlike the Afghan army which is run by Persian speaking Tajiks, the Pakistani army is a multi ethnic force which has representation of all ethnicities across the country.


  • Zalmai
    Jan 11, 2013 - 1:38AM


    You know nothing about Afghanistan or its people and you know less about the war. Afghan army is made up of all ethnic groups and the army chief is a Pashtun named Sher Khan Karimi, a Sandhurst graduate. Pashtuns and Tajiks are the same people and our languages are derived from the same root.

    It is only Pakistan that tries to foment ethnic and sectarian tension in Afghanistan to keep it destabilized and divided. Pakistan suffers from multiple identity crises, ethnic and sectarian divisions and you try to export that to Afghanistan but thank God Afghans see right through the mirage that is Pakistan.


  • Zalmai
    Jan 11, 2013 - 1:55AM


    “Unlike the Afghan army which is run by Persian speaking Tajiks, the Pakistani army is a multi ethnic force which has representation of all ethnicities across the country”

    You just opened up a can of worms. Afghans are Persians and our language and culture is synonymous. But Pakistan on the other hand has nothing to do with Persia yet its national anthem is written entirely in Persian. The Afghan national anthem is in Pashto not Persian.

    We are comfortable in our skins as Persian/Afghan but you on the other hand pretend to be Persian, Arabic, Turkish and God knows what else when everyone knows you are just an Indian with a new assumed identity.


  • Sterry
    Jan 11, 2013 - 3:12AM

    @Zalmai: You think that some Pashtun stooge of Tajiks leading the ANA makes you happy? By all means live in your delusional world where Tajiks and Pashtuns are the same language and ethnicity! Hey maybe you think Hazaras, Turkomens and Uzbeks are all the same too? Have you consulted anthropologists and linguists to support your claims? Pakistan doesn’t need to foment tensions of either an ethnic or sectarian nature; Please go watch the Kite Runner again to refresh yourself about ethnic and sectarian tensions which are centuries old. And if you think there is a mirage creating issues for Afghanistan, please expedite the return of all the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan so they go back to Kabul or if you prefer India. Pakistan should create a big wall so that Afghanistan can live in the their own mirage.


  • Jan 11, 2013 - 1:09PM

    Afghan army’s demands for tank is a very good option for India,i am sure Indian govt has taken note of it and may provide some indigenous made arjun and bhism MBT to afgan army enough for their need shhould afganistan requests new delhi for.This demand though questionable now by international military alliance including India but in future they may give in to afganistans demand.This demand if fulfilled pakistan is going to get one more dose and India got one more card in addition to its hand.


  • Zalmai
    Jan 11, 2013 - 8:05PM


    First of all Afghans are trying to do away with ethnic politics and promote meritocracy. Your assertion about the Afghan National Army being run by Tajiks and its stooges is so off the mark. You are basically projecting Pakistan’s ethnic politics and problems on to Afghanistan.

    I am an Afghan of Pashtun and Tajik descent and almost all Afghans share this dual or multiple ethnic backgrounds, which makes Afghans culturally homogeneous.

    There are two dominant civilizations in this part of the world and they are the Persian and Indian civilizations. All Afghans regardless of their ethnic and linguistic background are culturally Arian/Persian like all Pakistanis excluding the Pashtuns and Baloch are culturally Indian.

    I am not surprised by your worldview because your knowledge of Afghanistan comes from a work of fiction like The Kite Runner.


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