Yanks take forces for ride
Date: Friday, October 18 2002
Topic: International News
OTTAWA -- The cash-strapped Canadian Forces are paying the U.S. military a whopping $36 million to taxi equipment in and out of Afghanistan.
The U.S. military billed Canada $18 million earlier this year to ferry the 850-strong Canadian ground contingent's gear and hardware to Afghanistan.
Defence department spokesman Cpt. Mark Gough said the return trip is expected to cost as much.
"Although the Americans have lots and lots of money they do require funds," Gough said.
The Canadian military had to depend on the Americans to get Coyote reconnaissance vehicles and equipment such as sandbags and shovels in and out of the region because it doesn't own large transport planes.
Tory MP Elsie Wayne slammed the Liberal government for forcing the military to waste money on rentals, instead of investing in new ships and planes.
"For us to have to rely on the Americans, that's not fair to our men and women," Wayne said. "This is an absolute disgrace."
Yesterday, Defence Minister John McCallum signed an $80-million deal to turn two Canadian Forces Airbuses into sophisticated air-to-air refuellers for CF-18 fighter jets.
The planes will be out of commission for two years for the retrofit, leaving the Canadian Forces with three Airbuses to ferry troops and small equipment for deployments.