Skip to comments.Canada: JTF2 buys new guns; regular troops make do
Posted on 10/08/2005 11:46:54 AM PDT by Pikamax
JTF2 buys new guns; regular troops make do MP blasts 'double standard' that puts lives of elite soldiers above others
David Pugliese The Ottawa Citizen
October 8, 2005
Canada's special forces unit has gone on a multimillion-dollar spending spree, outfitting itself with high-tech weaponry that is the envy of units throughout the military.
But some members of parliament are questioning why there appears to be a double-standard in equipping regular and elite soldiers.
Flush with federal government cash, the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 has purchased everything from the futuristic P-90 submachine-gun to the Heckler and Koch automatic grenade launcher.
A JTF2 procurement team recently returned from Sweden, where it test-fired and then ordered a new anti-armour weapon specially designed to be used in confined spaces or for fighting in cities.
In addition, JTF2 has received armoured transport trucks from a U.S. company, Stewart and Stevenson, for use in Afghanistan. The unit also recently bought a portable X-ray machine designed to ferret out bombs. That system has also been shipped to Afghanistan.
But Conservative MP Gordon O'Connor is accusing Defence Minister Bill Graham of "a double standard when it comes to protecting the lives of our soldiers." He said regular troops now in Kandahar, as well as those expected to arrive there on an even riskier combat-oriented mission in February, face a similar level of danger as those serving in Joint Task Force 2.
"I think it's great that JTF2 is getting the Stewart and Stevenson trucks with the armour kits, because they do need them," said Mr. O'Connor, a retired general. "But so do the others."
"To listen to the minister argue that somehow the rest of our troops and the ones arriving in February are going to be in different circumstances is basically fiddle-faddle.
"Roadside bombs and attacks by rocket-propelled grenades go on whether you're chasing the enemy in the mountains or whether you're in Kandahar," he added.
Mr. Graham says there are different missions ongoing in Afghanistan and that since JTF2 is highly specialized, it requires different equipment. The Department of National Defence did not respond for comment on the issue.
Military officials recently revealed that JTF2 has participated in operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces and was involved in the capture and killing of insurgents. They did not provide further details on those actions.
But regular force troops serving in Afghanistan are also facing danger, the latest being a suicide bomb attack that caused minor injuries to three soldiers.
Unlike the regular forces, which obtain their equipment through the ponderously slow federal procurement system, JTF2 is able to cut through much of the red tape and quickly get approvals for gear from the military and political leadership. The unit also does not have to deal with the usual rules on government accountability and its purchases are considered secret.
When regular troops were driving around in unarmoured Iltis vehicles in Afghanistan several years ago, the JTF2 commandos were outfitted with the latest armoured Humvee vehicles equipped with heavy machine-guns. While JTF2 quickly received approval for its new automatic grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons, the army has been waiting for years to buy similar gear. That equipment is not expected to be acquired by regular units for at least another year or two.
In April, JTF2 procurement officers spent days touring the CANSEC defence equipment exhibition in Ottawa, meeting with company representatives and obtaining details on the latest military gadgets.
Mr. O'Connor said JTF2 is able to acquire its equipment faster because the unit is ordering small amounts of gear and it has been given priority on such purchases by the military's leadership. "They have their own procurement system where they don't have to go through all the checks and balances," he said.
In particular, Mr. O'Connor questioned why the regular army has to do without basic armour protection for its logistics trucks, even though such vehicles could be open to attack by enemy forces using roadside bombs or rocket-propelled grenades.
In 2001, the government gave JTF2 $119 million, in addition to its ongoing annual budget, to significantly expand the size of the special forces unit and acquire new equipment. This spring, the federal government announced another infusion of cash. It earmarked $2.7 billion for new JTF2 training facilities, as well as equipment for the unit and new helicopters and trucks for the Canadian Forces overall. Military officials have declined to detail how much of that $2.7 billion would go to JTF2.
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier wants JTF2 to play a more significant role in future military operations.
JTF2's budget is secret, but in the mid-1990s, when the unit was made up of around 100 commandos, the government was spending about $40 million a year on the group. The unit now has approximately 500 members, according to a newly released Senate defence committee report.
So what, now they are trying to instigate class warfare within the military?
I don't think it's fair that the JTF gets cool guns and toys and we citizens do not. How's that? I want my free rocket launcher now! :D
Moronic. They think that every branch and division should be equipped the same? Will they whine that their Air Force does not have a few submarines in its arsenal?
I think the play here is to keep the very small JTF2 well equipped and then use them to make people think they are managing the military well and don't need to increase spending on it.
"MP blasts 'double standard' that puts lives of elite soldiers above others"
Talk to the hand.
Just how much money would it take to buy new rifles for all 200 soldiers in the Canadian Army?
That line is getting a little worn. If you're going to insult us at least make it funny.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.