02/12/2013 Andrew Elwell - defenceiq.com
“We live in a dangerous neighbourhood … you can pick your friends but you cannot pick your neighbours,” General Sher Mohammad Karimi, the chief of the general staff in the Afghan National Army (ANA), told a delegation at the International Armoured Vehicles conference last week.
General Karimi, who was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and later forced into exile from Afghanistan before the Taliban government fell in 2001, presented the ANA’s armoured vehicle future requirements at the conference in Farnborough. With NATO forces scheduled to exit Afghanistan next year, Karimi outlined his plans for making the ANA a capable and efficient force to maintain peace in the region, explaining that, “in the future we will need high-end armoured capabilities … (armoured vehicles) are critical to the survival of the state to develop capabilities to fight insurgents.”
While thanking NATO for its continued support and singling out Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw and Lt Gen Bertrand Clément-Bollée, the Land Forces Commanders for the UK and France who were in the audience, Karimi was a man under no illusions:
“We must be prepared to fight alone … As conditions (in Afghanistan continue to improve), the need for protection does not go away … The current lack of armoured vehicles in the Afghan Army has driven home to me that there is a requirement and will always be a requirement for mobile firepower.”
The ANA is set to acquiring around 600 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFVs) from Textron Marine & Land Systems, which is based on the M1117 Guardian Armoured Security Vehicle (ASV). ANA’s MSFVs will come in a number of variants with capabilities including a 40mm grenade-launcher, a 7.62mm machine gun and a 90mm cannon. Textron are currently working on a command and control variant too, although Karimi said that is still in the development stage.
Although the ANA is fortifying its land forces with the MSFV, along with thousands of HMMWVs, Karimi cautioned that a larger force does not necessarily equate to a more effective one. “The most important thing with equipment is training,” according to the ANA chief. It’s an important nuance in developing markets for vehicle manufacturers to reflect on – the through-life support for their products needs to be more considered for customers who are unfamiliar with sophisticated kit. “Any new equipment must not be too complex. ANA soldiers are often uneducated or illiterate so simplified equipment is preferred at this stage and it must be sustainable.”
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