In recent years most military vehicles – such as these these American ‘Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected’ (MRAP) light tactical vehicles – seem to be painted tan, what with all the oil being in the desert. Er, we mean the ‘complicated political nature of the Middle East’, or something.
Of course a certain minimally-endowed despot has changed the landscape somewhat, bringing war back to the greeny-brown lands of Europe, and we suspect many national militaries will be re-painting a proportion of their equipment accordingly, even if they have no intention of joining in.
However the ’90s-2010s will be remembered, in a military context at least, for desert-based conflicts, and the tan-coloured vehicles that operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other sandy locales.
Cue Robson M (aka BrickDesigners), and these excellent Middle-East spec MRAPs, armoured trucks, and personnel carriers. Each captures its real-world equivalent brilliantly, helped by custom decals and weaponry, and there’s more to see of all of Robson’s desert warfare vehicles on Flickr via the link.
The news coming from Afghanistan at the moment is heartbreaking. A rare case of successful international cooperation, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent defeat of its Taliban ‘government’ brought freedom, equal-ish rights, and prosperity to millions of Afghans.
It also brought about a fantastically corrupt (although democratically elected) government and the deaths of tens of thousands, but despite this it would be hard to argue that many Afghans – particularly women – weren’t better off for the intervention.
Which makes it tremendously sad that all of those gains (and the blood spilt to achieve them) may now be lost thanks to a hasty politically-motivated Western withdrawal, with the Taliban regaining power even quicker than they lost it twenty years ago.
More tragically, it’s not the first time that foreign powers have put their own politics before the lives of Afghans…
This is a Soviet BTR-80, a remarkable 8×8 amphibious armoured personal carrier, as used in the Soviet-Afghan War.
Back in 1978 a coup in Afghanistan overthrew the presidency, replacing it with the ‘Democratic Republic of Afghanistan’, a puppet Communist government supported by the Soviet Union, which many of the Afghan people resisted via a brutal guerrilla war.
The UN ordered the Soviet Union to withdraw, which they ignored and engaged in a 9 year war in support of the Communist government, razing villages, destroying farmland, laying millions of landmines, and committing rape and torture.
Sanctions and a mass boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics followed, but worse was to come for the Soviet Union, who ultimately lost the war to the Afghan Mujahideen and the international community supporting them, which – many argue – hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.
The BTR-80 used towards the end of the conflict was still a mighty impressive piece of hardware though, and so too is this spectacular fully RC recreation by Sariel.
With eight-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, all-wheel suspension, a three-speed gearbox, motorised hatches, a remotely operable gun turret, rotating and lit searchlight, a working winch, and powered propellors all controlled via bluetooth thanks to three SBricks, Sariel’s BTR-80 is an engineering masterclass.
You can watch all of those incredible features in action via the video below, plus there are more stunning images of Sariel’s creation available to view at his ‘BTR-80’ Flickr album. Click here to make the jump to a pointless war in Afghanistan sometime in the late ’80s.
And back to that disastrous piece of Soviet foreign policy; even after the Soviet Union withdrew defeated, peace in Afghanistan was not forthcoming. A civil war continued to rage, taking the death toll to as many as two million Afghans.
Eventually, after years of turmoil, it was the Taliban who ended up in power, which brings us right back to 2001, the international intervention, and now – twenty years later – the rapid undoing of everything that was won.
With the UK recently announcing final plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and phase control to the new Afghan Government today seems appropriate to publish Simon T James‘ superb Lego versions of the British Army Jackal, Foxhound and Mastiff. See more on Flickr.