Thursday, January 20, 2011

Costly debacle, that UAE thing

The military and the Canadian taxpayer bear the brunt:
The Canadian military is casting about for another staging base for Afghanistan to replace makeshift arrangements in Cyprus – where the Forces relocated after Canada was kicked out of the United Arab Emirates late last year.

A move is not certain, but the Canadian Forces are searching for another, possibly closer, location from which to move troops and supplies in and out of Kandahar.
Canada is using two civilian airports in southern Cyprus – Paphos and Larnaca – to shuttle soldiers and other personnel in and out of Afghanistan. In Cyprus, the Canadians are housed in hotels. The operation is a pay-as-you-go contract, and cargo is shipped separately into Afghanistan via Germany.

The Forces are eyeing other locations that could offer more benefits, including lower costs, the ability to handle more volume or offer more flexibility. Defence sources wouldn’t identify possible alternatives, but it’s believed options could include another Gulf nation or one of the countries north of Afghanistan that diplomats refer to as “the Stans.”

Sources have previously told The Globe and Mail the cost of Canada having to leave Camp Mirage and pay for new staging locations could run as high as $300-million. A Defence source said on Wednesday part of the reason for seeking a new base would be to reduce this bill.

The UAE did not charge Ottawa for the use of Camp Mirage or the nearby port during Canada's stay of more than nine years there.

Cyprus is much farther from Afghanistan than Dubai, and the costs are relatively steep for Canada there. Ottawa would like a closer staging base with access to a port for shipborne cargo. (emphasis added)
On to see if one of "the Stans" will now take us, what was rumoured back in October. Cyprus was the quick set-up out of Camp Mirage, it appears, with one more big move to come. Why stay where you are, after all, using a longstanding rent-free locale in the UAE when you can move the Canadian military's Afghanistan staging operations twice over?

Seems like an awful lot of moving around and inconvenience and cost for our military. That really should have factored in to a much greater extent to the Harper government's decision calculus.

Oh well, what do we know. Chess master at work and all that.