Friday, October 18, 2013

What do Humvees in Afghanistan today have in common with trains in Mali in 1982? More than you think.

"In Afghanistan, army struggles to wage war with damaged equipment, poor logistics" 
Their fighting season nearly over, members of an embattled Afghan army unit recently inspected their equipment, most of which was in two heaps on their base. There were Humvees shredded by roadside bombs, armored trucks damaged by rocket-propelled grenades and other vehicles in need of repair after hard use in one of the country’s most volatile areas. 
The Afghan soldiers could not fix any of them, and replacements hadn’t come. Seventy-five percent of the battalion’s armored vehicles were out of commission. There were so few Humvees that some soldiers walked for 20 hours to get from base to base.
This article reminded me of my days in the early 1980's when I served  as a Marine Security Guard at the US Embassy in Bamako, Mali (Northwest Africa) and a conversation I had with some consultants for a major train engine manufacturer (I forget which).

The US government purchased (at least one maybe more) a bright shiny new train engine and these consultants were their to train Malians on how to operate it.  They expressed dismay because they new there were no serious plans to train mechanics on how to repair the trains when they needed service and no provisions for spare parts.  The photo op at the commissioning of the train was nice, but they knew the train would run until it ran no more and then pushed to the scrap yard.

Nice to know things have not change much in 30 years or so....

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