Monday, May 18, 2009
An estimated 340 fighters were killed last week in clashes between the Chadian army and anti-government rebel groupings. The worst of the fighting took place in Am Dam, just west of the Irish troops’ base in Goz Beida.
The Irish troops’ need for a full supply of fuel to perform the crucial patrols is particularly pressing when considered against the background of other problems the UN is facing with the operational capability of its force.
The Chad MINURCAT mission had 2,425 troops when it should have 5,200 and was short 18 helicopters. The helicopter shortage and lack of “critical communications” units had weakened the mission’s ability to display its strength during long-range patrols, he said. The 15 daily security patrols currently being conducted around Chad by the multinational force are limited in reach because of the poor capabilities of civilian helicopters, particularly in relation to medical evacuations.
The Irish troops depend on civilian helicopters, A contract for the supply of the two Mi-8T (Russian Ми-8, NATO reporting name "Hip") helicopters was placed with an UK-based company, Air Partner Commercial Jets
The helicopters come to the aid of troops who get into difficulties when conducting patrols – which should be long-range and last several days – into remote regions along the border with Sudan’s Darfur region. Russian helicopters ferry military personnel, with Ukrainian crew.