Helicopter Shortage Plagues International Missions

May 06, 2008 03:22 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Josh Katz
Hampering international efforts in locations such as Chad and Afghanistan, the shortage may be more about policy than about numbers.

30-Second Summary

The European Union waited until February 2008 to send troops to Chad, a neighbor of Sudan, partly because it could not obtain enough helicopters for the mission earlier.

Similarly, in November 2007, Aviation Week Intelligence Network reported that, “The helicopter shortage is the ‘single biggest operational problem’ that is hampering the day-to-day operations” of NATO’s Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which consists of 41,000 troops.

Helicopters are a vital component to military and peacekeeping efforts throughout the world. The aircraft are known as “force-multipliers,” because they increase the efficiency of small units. Helicopters boost troop mobility in the difficult terrain of countries like Afghanistan, and are integral in neutralizing the threat of roadside improvised explosive devices.

But the number of helicopters is not the problem
: Europe has more than 2,000 and the U.S. boasts more than 6,000. Instead, the shortage is a result of the considerable manpower needed for maintenance and the hesitance to send valuable machinery to dangerous locales. In other words, says the International Relations and Security Network, the issue is a lack of “political will.”

Mark Leon Goldberg, a writer in residence for the United Nations Foundation and a senior correspondent with the American Prospect, criticizes countries for failing to supply Darfur with badly needed helicopters. “The crunch for helicopters is simply the latest manifestation of member states’ real disinterest in mustering the political will to match rhetoric with action on Darfur.”

Headline Link: The helicopter crunch

Background: The helicopter shortage hampers war and peacekeeping efforts

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Hunting for helicopters’

Related Topic: U-2 spy planes in the War on Terror

Reference: The Battle of Mogadishu


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