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Doubts over new Canadian logistics hub in Germany

Feb. 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM   |   Comments

OTTAWA, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Canadian plans to create a defense logistics hub in Germany are in doubt after complications arising from German objections over potential noise pollution.

Canada announced plans for opening the hub as it unveiled a long-term strategy to better prepare for overseas military operations.

Canadian forces are active in Afghanistan and took part in NATO's operation in Libya last year.

After talks with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere in Ottawa on Feb. 14, Canada announced it would set up a logistics hub at German's Koln Bonn Airport, which serves Bonn, Cologne and surrounding tones.

The planned hub is to be a substitute for the U.S. Air Base Spangdahlem in the southwestern German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which Canada shares.

Spangdahlem is near the sparsely region of Eifel while the Koln Bonn Airport is one of the busiest land and air transportation hubs.

Airport administration officials said they couldn't accept the plan for Canadian relocation as increased night flights in a congested urban center could upset residents.

Cologne city officials said they also opposed Canada's planned move.

"The airport of a major city is not the right location for additional military air traffic," Cologne Lord Mayor Juergen Roters said.

In fact, he said, the city favored a further reduction in night flights to reduce noise pollution.

Airport officials said they would continue to confer with Canadian armed forces and German Defense Ministry to find a solution.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay, who met with de Maiziere, said Canada's Afghanistan operations and experience of Libya had brought home the need to have better facilities.

Sharing the small logistical hub at Spangdahlem with U.S. forces has "driven home the value of maintaining operational support hubs abroad in anticipation of future mission requirements," MacKay said.

Canadian forces must be "flexible, able to respond at a moment's notice and get halfway around the world sometimes at very short notice," he said.

Canada has spent the last few months exploring ways to ensure that flexibility, MacKay said, and is in talks to set up a network of operational hubs in other locations.

Canadian defense officials said the planned hub will cost about $500,000 per year to operate but didn't revealed the initial costs of transferring and setting up operations in a new location.

Only have a small number of Canadian military personnel and facilities are planned to be based at the hub, MacKay said.

"However, the benefit to Canada will be huge as the hubs will have the capacity to ramp up operations quickly should the need arise in response to those crises," MacKay said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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