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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 3/24/2006 6:50:12 PM EDT
link to article

I came across this article; it gives an interesting insight into the Canadian Forces troops deployed to Afghanistan. Here is the first page; for the rest click on the link:

SOMEWHERE NEAR GOMBAD, AFGHANISTAN - Eyes are watching tonight as the blackness settles in on the barren mountaintop. Eyes that seek Canadian blood. They have been watching for weeks, from the very first moment Alpha Company of the First Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group made its presence known in the high hills of the Shawali Kot region of northern Kandahar Province.
Everyone can feel the eyes.

"Tonight is different, something weird is going on," a Canadian soldier announces tersely, his face drawn with tension.

He points toward the distant shadows of the western valley below, where telltale car headlights push through the darkness. He points to the eastern valley opposite, and here too the single headlamp of a motorbike can be seen flickering along a goat path. All of this movement is wrong, because nothing in these war-ravaged valleys moves after dark. The night means danger, a time for the ethnic Pashtun villagers to stay indoors and wait for daylight. Those who defy the darkness are the dangerous ones.

The Canadians do not panic. There is no need, for, after a hard day's hump through knee-high rushing rivers and on up the mountainside laden with full combat attire, they have settled upon a campsite from which all can be seen. It is a campsite others have favoured before them, judging by the empty weapons cache discovered nearby.

From here, the Canadians have the strategic advantage. They have a belly full of high-energy MREs — meals, ready-to-eat. They have night-vision equipment. They have clandestine Rules of Engagement more generous than anything their kind has known since the Korean War. And they are ready.

It helps also that they came with friends — a dozen Afghan National Army (ANA) recruits and their special-forces trainers, who work under the flag of a country that can't be named at the request of Canadian Forces.

In the falling dark, a commotion erupts. The Afghan army regulars have snatched their weapons and now are bounding down the mountain in pursuit of an enemy scout they spotted below the Canadian position. The unarmed intruder escapes capture, fleeing into the night.

Calm is restored, but sleep comes fitfully under a dazzling canopy of stars. There was no room for tents in the Canadian backpacks; the soldiers hunker down on the bare ground in bivvy bags, weapons at their side. They take turns on sentry duty in two-hour rotations.

An icy wind arrives before daybreak, bringing with it a climactic culture shock. The Canadians remain snug in temperatures that don't quite qualify as winter camping. But their Afghan companions are a shivering mess, numbed by altitudes no Afghan contemplates outside the summer months.

The morning brings new challenges still. The Canadians will resume their march down to the isolated village of Kundalan, where they are required to change hats, transforming instantly from warriors to peacemakers. The pointy tip of the Canadian army must blunt itself, if only for a moment, to extend the hand of friendship to the locals.

The campaign to win Afghan hearts and minds will play out repeatedly in village after village over the platoon's 10-day mission. Tragically, it will be a campaign from which not all the Canadians will return.

Drugs, dogma and insurgents

Some of these Canadian soldiers have been to Bosnia, some to Croatia, some also to Kosovo, and many have seen the far more stable face of Afghanistan from the capital, Kabul, where Canadian Forces have contributed handsomely to NATO peacemaking efforts almost since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

But none has seen the modern stone-age family quite the way it presents itself in these distant and deeply tribal mountains north of Kandahar.

Here, mud-walled homes stand in clustered communities that lack virtually everything one associates with modernity. They have no electricity, no teachers, no doctors, no roads worthy of the name, no means with which to rise from the ashes of a quarter century of conflict.

What these villages do have are mosques, with calls to prayer five times a day the only sound that carries apart from the crowing of roosters. And, interspersed among spindly wheat sprouts, one can see the green beginnings of what will become a new poppy harvest — the obvious harbinger of opium-processing drug lords whose interest in reversing any Afghan recovery matches that of remnant Taliban insurgents.

Drugs and medieval religious dogma, an unholy alliance that is filtered further still through the almost inscrutable subtleties of Pashtun tribal rivalries, is what the Canadians find themselves up against.

What these particular Canadian soldiers bring with them, however, is something more substantial than most Canadians realize — actual combat capability. A capability that, despite the Cold War-era teachings of the Canadian military, includes more than a little knowledge of modern counter-insurgency techniques.

It would be unfair to quote them by name, for they hardly deserve the top-down retributions of the Canadian Forces' bloated middle management. But know this: Many of Canada's front-line combat soldiers, who number barely 3,500 in total, view as wholly inadequate the training they receive at home.

"The teaching model is still based on the assumption that when we go to war, that war will be conventional, as in the Godless Russian hordes lined up in tanks coming at us from one direction," a veteran non-commissioned officer at Kandahar Airfield told the Toronto Star.

"It is not the fault of the instructors. That was the environment they came up in. But at the same time, that's not what war is anymore. The reality today is counter-insurgency. The top Canadian brass realize this and so do the front-of-line soldiers. But in between, there is a layer of the army locked in hidebound thinking, basically resistant to change.

"So a lot of us deployed in Afghanistan today have basically had to throw out the book and educate ourselves. It's really not that difficult, because so many armies around the world have been training in counter-insurgency techniques for so long now that there is a substantial library of knowledge available. And we're studying it on our own."

In other words, Canadian soldiers in training are buying and reading books and going online in search of post-Cold War military doctrine, particularly the strategies of dealing with an insurgent or guerrilla-style enemy (who hits and runs, rather than standing and fighting).

Some combat soldiers here say the decayed state of military education in Canada is merely a by-product of overall neglect for the forces as a whole by successive Canadian governments. And that, they say, speaks to Canada's enduring cultural love affair with the notion that our soldiers are simply peacekeepers, nothing more and nothing less.

Capt. Kevin Schamuhn, 26, commander of Alpha Company's 1st Platoon, into which the Star was embedded at Gombad, articulated the reality of the battlefield that surrounds him with a yearning for what used to be.

"I crave World War II. You have Germans in grey uniforms with specific weapons. Roger. Got it. No problem," he said.

"But here in Afghanistan, I've shaken hands with a dozen enemies. I'm sure of it. And that one kid walking around in the background, who knows what's in his head? If they are able to come out and fight us one-on-one, there's no doubt we would have the overwhelming authority and dominance in the region. But they don't play by our rules.

"Nobody in the chain of command has a false sense of that reality," Schamuhn added. "It's just that the mechanisms of the Canadian military system have been inactive for so long that it is taking time to get the cobwebs out. Okay, so this is a counter-insurgency. Let's deal with it head on."

Next: Pt. 2: A fruitful meeting

Link Posted: 3/24/2006 6:53:25 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/24/2006 6:54:22 PM EDT by captainpooby]

Canadian warriors are second to none.

Their leaders on the other hand...
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 7:24:11 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/24/2006 7:24:45 PM EDT by AyeGuy]
The bummer is they don't say what happened to the lieutenant that the Afghan attacked with the axe. I hope he is okay.
Link Posted: 3/24/2006 7:27:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By captainpooby:

Canadian warriors are second to none.

Their leaders on the other hand...

Link Posted: 3/26/2006 5:45:39 PM EDT
Someone ask KevinB if he knows what happened to the Lieutenant.
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 5:51:50 PM EDT
"Alpha Company of the First Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group"

Seriously.....I would not want to be in that Battle Group...
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 5:51:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 5:54:25 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 6:08:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Aimless:

Originally Posted By Enigma102083:
"Alpha Company of the First Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group"

Seriously.....I would not want to be in that Battle Group...

Don't let those names fool you, they have leadership and finance problems, but there are some tough fuckers up there.

Get outside of the major eastern cities, where they seem to want to be frenchmen, and there are some pretty damn remote areas still in canada.

They'd have to be with a unit name like that.
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 6:14:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/26/2006 6:18:41 PM EDT by Lord_Grey_Boots]

Originally Posted By Enigma102083:
"Alpha Company of the First Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group"

Seriously.....I would not want to be in that Battle Group...

Why not? Its named after a member of the Royal family who first sponsored its founding in 1914. The Patricia's have an extremely honorable battle record from WWI, WWII, and Korea.

The founding of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was undoubtedly in response to the unfolding events that led to the First World War. Captain Andrew Hamilton Gault, the founder of the Regiment, had the foresight to understand the severity of the situation in Europe, and the willingness to create an army unit that would be able to mobilize quickly in an international crisis. The creation of the PPCLI enabled Canada to expedite a military force overseas in 1914.

The growth of nationalism and imperialism throughout Europe during the early years of the twentieth century fashioned an atmosphere of conflicting political goals. Nationalism, combined with the creation of secret military alliances throughout Europe, fomented growing social and political upheaval. Shortly before Sunday afternoon, June 28th, 1914, the citizens of Sarajevo gathered to see Archduke Francis Ferdinand heir to the Austria-Hungary throne. As his royal touring car passed by the crowds, a young Bosnian student, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated both the Archduke and his wife. Austria-Hungary suspected that Serbia had approved the plot to kill Ferdinand, and declared war on Serbia. The balance of power that bound peace in Europe was broken, and the secret alliances of the international community came to light.

Canada's quick response to the war was due in part to the wealthy and distinguished Montreal businessman and Captain of the Royal Highlanders of Canada, Hamilton Gault. As a veteran of the South African war, Gault remained personally involved with the Canadian political responsibility to Britain as part of the Empire. As the climate of war overshadowed the international community in early August 1914, Hamilton Gault ventured by train to Ottawa with a proposal. He would personally raise and equip a mounted unit of Canadians for the Imperial authorities. The proposal was set in front of Colonel Sam Hughes, the Canadian Minister of the Militia and Defence. Colonel Hughes was attracted to the offer, but thought that an Infantry unit, as opposed to cavalry, would be more useful to Britain.

On August 4th, 1914, Germany's invasion of Belgium forced Britain into the war. As a loyal member of the Empire, Canada also declared war.

Great Britain's Declaration of War made Hamilton Gault's proposal even more credible to the Government. Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Farquhar, DSO, was an officer with the Coldstream Guards and Military Secretary to Canada's Governor General, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught. He was enthusiastic about Gault's proposal, and knew the Government was seriously reviewing the idea. Farquhar and Gault decided that they should recruit men who had previous active service but were not obligated to militia units. LT. Colonel Farquhar approached the Duke of Connaught for permission to name the Regiment after his daughter, Her Royal Highness, Princess Patricia of Connaught. Princess Patricia had already become a much admired figure in Canada because of her appreciation of the country's vast wilderness and people. The request was made to the Princess, who was delighted. On August 6th, 1914, the Canadian Government provisionally accepted Hamilton Gault's offer.

Authority for the Regiment was granted on August 10th, through a charter embodied in a report of the Committee of the Privy Council of Canada, to raise and equip an infantry battalion. As detailed in the charter Hamilton Gault would contribute $100,000 to finance and equip the battalion with the remainder of expenditures being covered by the Department of Militia and Defense.

Mobilization of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry progressed quickly. The recruiting project began on August 11th and was completed eight days later as veteran soldiers flocked to Ottawa from every part of Canada. The recruitment campaign extended to six cities: Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. By August 19th 1,098 ranks had been accepted from 3,000 applicants, and of them 1,049 had seen previous service throughout the British Empire. It is said that all but one unit in the British Army was in the ranks of the new Regiment, as well as men from the Royal Navy and Marines.

The Regiment's first formal parade was held on August 23rd. Princess Patricia presented her Regiment with a Camp Colour that she had designed and worked by hand. On it, the initials "VP" (Victoria Patricia) in gold were entwined upon a blue center on a crimson background. The "Ric-A-Dam-Doo", as it later became known to all Patricia soldiers, was affixed to a staff cut from a Government House maple tree. The Colour was carried into every battle in which the Regiment fought in the First World War. The Edmonton City Pipe band traveled to Ottawa under the leadership of Pipe-Major C. Colville, a veteran who reported for duty in Hunting Stewart Tartan and announced to the Commanding Officer that "We came (Sir) to pipe you to France and back again".
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 6:20:02 PM EDT
PPCLI are some serious hardasses. The gear situation is improving, and the new Prime Minister though only a few months in office, has already shown himself to be a much better (Defacto) CIC. I like Gen. Hillier (a fellow newfie), but some of the other brass need to unf&*# themselves (like those that say more than five mags in a combat zone is 'excessive').
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 8:34:57 PM EDT
Read the whole article. Quite good. Thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 9:09:43 PM EDT
PPCLI are such hard-core tough-ass bastards that they don't care WHO sees them carrying around their green C-7's with 20" barrels AND telestocks...
Link Posted: 3/26/2006 9:28:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Enigma102083:
"Alpha Company of the First Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group"

Seriously.....I would not want to be in that Battle Group...

Why do you think Dick Butkus was such a mean Mo Fo? Anybody with a name like that has to have a chip on their shoulder.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 12:09:05 AM EDT
Ah, the PPCLI. We thought it was a pretty gay sounding outfit....until we met them.

A hardcore, professional group of warriors. Friendly too. But I wouldn't want to get on their bad side.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 12:41:48 AM EDT
A really good article, took me a while to read the whole thing. What sort of interests me is that the media guys really seemed to portray these guys as the fine men they are...no real slant, that I saw anyway.

It seems really amazing to me that some Canadian reporters can treat soldiers with reverence and respect but our media can't, unless they are using "concern" or "respect" as a guise to make a mockery of them and what they're doing.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 12:44:25 AM EDT
I've actually heard it the other way around. There was some Candian Sniper platoon that the whole country hates because they now hold the combat record for longest shot (1700 something meters)
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 12:55:17 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 4:41:43 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:39:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:
Canadians = Fucking HARDCORE!!!!

I've seen the pictures of that skinny the Canaian Para's barbecued alive in Mogadishu!

They disbanded the regiment because of that. My Dad's regiment.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:44:12 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 7:30:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By hatebreed:
A really good article, took me a while to read the whole thing. What sort of interests me is that the media guys really seemed to portray these guys as the fine men they are...no real slant, that I saw anyway.

It seems really amazing to me that some Canadian reporters can treat soldiers with reverence and respect but our media can't, unless they are using "concern" or "respect" as a guise to make a mockery of them and what they're doing.

Yes, the honest reporting of the Canadian reporters and the service they did to the troops was refreshing, wasn't it?

Think we will ever get that out of an "American" reporter?

No. Instead we get Ed Bradley or Mike Wallace or whoever saying they wouldn't warn US troops of an ambush.

Or Kevin Sites tattling on a couple of Marines for capping wounded insurgents, nearly getting them prosecuted for murder...
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