Posted by: Christian | July 4, 2008

Afghanistan Chainsaw Massacre

Alright, another awesome 10-minute mini-documentary by John D McHugh on Charlie Company in Khost. (H/T Kotare). The elementary school principal routine at 3:55 is kind of funny: “Insurgency is bad, m’kay?” Anyways, the report is excellent. I highly recommend you watch it.

But what really bothered me was the chainsaws. That’s right, the chainsaws. These guys have to use axes to clear the line of fire because the (ancient) chainsaws that were delivered do not work. McHugh wrote on this earlier. I couldn’t get a good look at the pieces of crap…, I mean chainsaws, but they look like they may be Stihl brand saws from the 1980s or perhaps they are from from the Ching Boa Tsung Chainsaw Collective factory in Heilonjiang Province. I don’t know. That’s not the point. What is important is that the United States military (or some contractor) is not sending these guys equipment that works. That’s disgraceful.

Photo: No comment.

President Bush chainsaw

Chainsaws are a ridiculously simple piece of equipment. In every town in North America you can buy a saw made by Stihl, Husqvarna, Jonsered, etc… that will, if you stick to the Scandanavian/German brands, last a long time under bad conditions. Could the US military perhaps go to Home Depot, buy some saws and put them on a plane to Afghanistan?

Sorry about all that, but chainsaws and treefalling are an imagined “expertise” for pretty much everybody in British Columbia outside of Vancouver. Though I admit my expertise is somewhat limited. Here’s a slight problem I had when trying to fall a Pine Bark beetle-infested tree against its lean into a 20 degree radius to avoid the structures behind and to the right of me and the larger trees around it:

tree problem

I hope my sister doesn’t see this photo since that’s her chainsaw stuck in there ( I should have just let her fall the tree). But my point is that chainsaws are nearly indestructible (compared to other machinery/tools). This saw has seen far worse and it still works. I treated my chainsaw horribly for years and it still worked. Perhaps the US military (or a contractor) can start delivering working equipment? But then again, they are not even providing axes that work. Axes should last 30 years with regular use. Was this axe bought at the Dollar Store?

Photo of Chinese axe in Khost by John D McHugh:


I guess I’m just ignorant of logistics and supply issues. But why can’t soldiers be provided with the equipment that they need? I get frustrated just watching the video. I wonder how these guys, fighting a war for 12 months, feel? I would probably have thrown that chainsaw too. I also wonder if a contractor charged $32,000 per decrepit chainsaw delivered? I hope not.

Watch the video.


  1. Well, there is also the little problem with an Army contractor sending bad ammunition to Afghanistan as well. I bet you it’s much more of a systemic problem in acquisitions.

  2. Somebody should make a phonecall to Husquarnas PR-department asap.

  3. The supply system itself is broken. In Iraq last year we averaged 30-60 days for simple requests for things like hand tools, 3-6 months for things like furniture. Stuff frequently disappears from the supply depot once it arrives in theater (hopefully a truly needy unit stole it, but I wouldn’t bet on it) and commander’s without stars have no budgetary authority to purchase things on their own from non-military suppliers.

    The aforementioned hand tools, when they arrived were the less expensive homeowner/DIY tools at the hardware stores. Not that we didn’t use the hell out of them, but Marines are not known for using things gently and they didn’t last long.

  4. well i watched the video and in the video the soldier had one of the husky chainsaws runnning. the reason the chainsaw stopped was that there wasnt enough chain tension, all he had to do was turn the front chain tension screw a few turns and the chain wouldnt jump off the bar.


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