Friday, August 07, 2009

What is the deal with the tanks 

Disclamer: This post is not intended for the usual audience (all 4 of you) this is so that in case anyone wants to google this topic they will find a detailed synopsis of balance of power between Venezuela and Colombia.

Since the 20th century Venezuela and Colombia have shared a tenuous truce of sorts regarding the northernmost border, Colombia claims to own part of the state of Zulia and by extension part of the Gulf of Venezuela (which they call Gulf of Coquivacoa), Venezuela conversely states that they own all of the Guajira Peninsula. The key difference is that the Gulf of Venezuela is rich with hydrocarbon resources wheras the peninsula is devoid of economic value.

In 1941 Venezuela surrendered 100,000 Km2 to Colombia, since we had no real army they marched in and took it unopposed. After that it was decided that a standing army was necessary in order to maintain the territorial integrity of the nation. Since we could not match them man for man it was decided to maintain a qualitative edge. Second hand military equipment was purchased from US war surplus, but even this was state of the art for the region. Ever since we have new toys and Colombia has more men, and are always playing catchup. In 1987 war was averted because we had an edge, but the gap closed in the 90's.

Which leads us to today and Chavez once again saber rattling for who knows how long, the goal according to him is to double the armour fleet with state of the art equipment, but unlike the Su-30's purchasing the latest Russian tanks is a waste of money.

A)They are not as decisive as holding air superiority, planes are of utmost importance in grounding the Colombian helicopter fleet which is substantial, tanks don't really help here.

B)Colombia has no MBT, they recently wanted free hand-me-downs from Spain, but this was aborted by Chavez whining.

The models we are most likely to purchase (T-90 or upgraded t-72s) are both very good, and they would even be on par with Chile's Leopard 2s but they would be complete overkill against Colombia, or sitting ducks to US aircraft, neither scenario justifies their purchase.

So why buy them? Chavez was an old tank commander but I doubt this has sentimental value. Others claim it is a joke because of the jungle border (stupidly inaccurate). The opposition theory is that we are about to invade (they honestly wish). Last but not least is that this is a preemptive move so that we are still ahead even when they do purchase tanks.

There is only two plausible theories I can think of: Another chapter in the silly drama before Chavez and Uribe make up yet again, or the current MBT are falling apart.


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