American’s Just Say No to Tanks
An interesting article at Strategypage concerning US troops in Afghanistan refusing to follow Canada’s example of using main battle tanks against the Taliban. First the pro-armor argument:
The Canadians have found tanks very useful while fighting the Taliban. In addition to being immune to enemy fire, the tanks can smash through the walls that surround the many family compounds that dot the Afghan countryside. There is also the fear factor. The Canadian tanks are scary, as well as deadly. When the Canadian troops have a tank along, the Taliban are usually very reluctant to fight…The Canadians have fewer helicopters, so they use the roads more often, and find having a tank along can, literally, be a lifesaver.
And the argument against the tracked behemoths:
The American commanders are reluctant to add the heavy logistical load even a few dozen tanks would impose. U.S. M-1 tanks have to be brought in one-at-a-time via C-17 transports, and consume enormous amounts of fuel. Moreover, many American commanders do not believe the tanks would be available for many missions. The American brigades will be operating over a wide swatch of territory, and have fewer opportunities to use the tanks.
I can see the merits for both arguments, but I do think it interesting the fact that the US troops feel they can do without the tanks for now, which doesn’t bode well for future armor production. There is no clear evidence that the tank is 100% obsolete or irrelevant for future warfare. Currently the main argument against is the cost, and that cheaper wheeled vehicles, as also proved by the Stryker in Iraq, can do many of the functions of a tank.
Still, we think the ones we have are good enough for the present, and for a replacement the Army might also consider reopening the M-1 production line for a thousand or two, keeping in line with our prediction that warfare off the shelf is with us to stay.
Read this for our previous thoughts on the Canadian Leopards.