View Full Version : UN Plaza: Peacekeeping Edition

02-23-2008, 04:07 PM

02-23-2008, 05:11 PM
Boy Mark Goldberg seems to have his pants in a wad about the ability to get helicopters for the Darfur as he seems to hit this issue every diavlog. He should actually look a little deeper into the issue to try and discover what the real holdups are so that he can do more than carp on the failure of the world to supply them. I can point to two serious issues that are holding things up.

The first being that the Chadian government has refused to allow pilots of certain nationalities to fly these needed helicopters(may have changed by now) and they just happen to be the nations that are most able to afford lending the helicopters both from a material point of view and financially. Thus the UN is essentially asking for $114,760,000(18 UH60 Black Hawk and 8 AH1 Cobra Attack Helicopters) million dollars in military hardware to be given to them to be flown and maintained by foreign personnel. I'm not sure given the track record of corruption in th UN that our lawmakers, much less the administration is going to go along with this.

Second it really gets better than this when you consider that helicopters, like all aircraft, have a rather rigorous maintenance schedule. I don't know exactly what the time period is today but when I was in the service (68-72) there was a factory tear down and rebuild required every 500 hours. I don't imagine it has changed much since then as machines are still machines. Thats 100 days of flying 5 hours a day or essentially every three months these 24 helicopters would have to be replaced by a new set of 24 helicopters. It used to take about 6 months to get a helicopter packed up, shipped, torn apart, repaired, reassembled, and returned to the unit. So the request is not really for 24 helicopters but 72 helicopters plus tens of millions to rebuild them every 500 hours.

Nothing is as simple as it seems.

P.S. I think my estimation for the actual number of helicopters needed is low for two reasons. There will have to be some additional helicopters available to replace any and all lost aircraft and the recycle time of factory rebuilds will be stretched by a month or two to meet Agricultural Department rules for the cleanness. Yes the helicopters, as all military equipment, returning from any and all overseas deployment must essentially be sterilized and then sealed to prevent the importation of foreign plants and animals. So if it stretches to 8 months that means an additional 24 helicopters will be needed.

02-24-2008, 01:12 AM
I agree with your two serious issues, but I have a one word answer: China. China could substantially impact the Darfur situation. The member states should try to make solving Darfur a highly visible pre-Olympics centerpiece item so that China would take a more active role.

02-24-2008, 06:37 AM
I agree that China has a lot to say there.

02-24-2008, 08:12 AM
A very interesting and informative 20 minute video by the Danish Professor Hans Rosling
Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/92). Even for those that don't like my links this one is good and completely non partisan.

02-24-2008, 09:42 AM
Your right. Very interesting data and great visuals. Well worth a look. Thanks.

02-24-2008, 10:22 AM

Is bloggingheads.tv passing up an opportunity for a scoop?

02-24-2008, 10:52 AM
Your a little late.

Thanks, and glad you like BH TV, I do too. Just wanted to let you know, as
of midnight Inner City Press appears to be back in Google News, while they
didn't go back and include the articles for the last 7 days which were
excluded, they started re-including the four uploaded tonight. So, back to
the questioning and reporting, thanks, -Matthew

piscivorous broke the news last week.

02-24-2008, 05:43 PM

As it happens, I looked at the comments before listening to this diavlog. I thought your point was a good one, and I appreciated the details you offered to support your position. I was therefore primed to hear the question when it came up.

I must say, I did not hear Mark's helicopter question as obsessive. If you listen to it (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/8815?in=08:07&out=08:27), it's phrased just like a reporter would phrase such a question; i.e., it seems like a fairly straightforward thing to provide a few helicopters, it's a mystery (to those uneducated in helicopter operations, especially) why every two-bit local news station can have a chopper but we can't scrounge up 24 from the entire world's combined armies, and, so far, there hasn't been given to the public a clear and simple answer. Thanks to both you and Nick, I now understand better why.

Still, this seems like a legitimate question for a reporter to ask, and one of the things a good reporter does is ask the same question over and over, to a lot of people, until he or she gets a solid answer.

One other minor point: I bow to your superior knowledge about ancillary costs, but still, I do know how bureaucracies work. It's very easy for them to inflate a price tag by tossing in all sorts of "yeah, but don't forget about this" types of costs, if there is some ulterior motive to say "no" to begin with. I sensed, upon first reading your comment, that there is at least a little bit of this going on, and after hearing Nick, I am even more convinced that this is a part of it: there is probably a great deal of reluctance to launch a "peace-keeping" mission when so many people in a given area appear to have no interest in peace. What's required in Darfur is really more of a "peace-making" operation, it seems -- coming in with enough person- and firepower to separate the warring factions. That's inarguably a much harder and more expensive thing to do.

Anyway, my main point is that I don't think Mark is being tiresome by repeatedly raising the question about helicopters.

02-24-2008, 06:16 PM
My comment was directed at not how he phrased the question but the fact that this is the third or fourth diavlog where he has essentially asked the same question. I think that as a reporter I would have to begin to look for the underlying reasons as to why it was countries are so reluctant to do this "simple thing" and to me that is Marks presentation and attitude each time hes has brought it up, instead of asking the mouth piece of a UN organization for clarity.

As to the cost those are current contractual replacement costs, as to whether they are inflated is a whole different question, for the Army version of the UH60 and Marine version of the AH-1. Other countries use different helicopters that are cheaper but the idea was to give a general sense of what a 24 helicopter commitment really looks like and why so few countries are actually capable of making this type of commitment.