Friday, December 22, 2006



"Since August ... let's see," said McMahon, scanning a clipboard. "We've moved 6,743 bags of mail, weighing a total of 116,883 kilos.

"Now, in this last week, you're talking 835 bags, 14,500 kilos. Since Dec. 8."
A little over 2,000 kilos a day. And not all of it even addressed to anyone in particular.
Since September, when Operation Medusa really turned Afghanistan and the Canadian military into a hot topic back home, there's been an outpouring of sympathy and support from hundreds of thousands of Canadian civilians - most of whom, apparently, don't actually know anyone serving overseas.

"We get a ton of unaddressed mail, usually posted to 'anyone in the Canadian Forces,'" said McMahon. "Padre usually gets it, and it takes a long time to get through.''

And the things they send. Toothpaste. Cookies. Candy. Toiletries. Sudoku puzzle books.

"Those things were huge a few months back," said Cpl. Claude Robichaud of the Fleet Mail Office.

There's also Kraft Dinner - tons of it.

"I guess it gives the guys on the line a break from rations, but we've been getting an awful lot of it," said Robichaud. "All it takes is for one guy on leave to say, 'Gee, I sure miss KD when I'm in Afghanistan,' and it's an avalanche."

Just this week, the Canadian Forces issued a press release pleading with the public to stop sending unaddressed care packages to Afghanistan.

"The CF resupply system cannot handle care packages addressed to 'Any CF member' for a variety of reasons, including security and volume," the release said.

The military does encourage people to write or post messages to the troops.
You can post electronically at:

If you want to send something unaddressed via snail mail, you can do that too. Go to the forces website at and follow the links to find the addresses.
The above was written by Doug Beasly from Afghanistan for Sun Media. What follows is from the official site:

In addition to providing morale and welfare programs, activities, and services to enhance the quality of life of the CF community, the CFPSA offers Canadians several ways of supporting the dedicated men and women who serve our country.

The mission re-supply system is designed to move operational and operational support equipment. Donated goods do not qualify as such, and can only be moved when space is available. Such space is extremely limited and its use requires extensive coordination in order to keep it under control. If you are an individual or a group external to the CF, please use one of the options listed on this page:

This restriction does not apply to CF family members and personal friends who can send parcels to individual CF members overseas by following guidelines available at

Buying official "Support Our Troops" merchandise: The only "Support Our Troops" merchandise sanctioned by the CF,includes ball caps, t-shirts, car and fridge magnets, cling vinyl window decals, bracelets, lapel pins, and more. Order these and other items online at CANEX. All proceeds from the sales of CFPSA "Support Our Troops" items are reinvested directly into morale and welfare programs for CF members and their families.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Canadian troops launch major offensive in Panjwaii district

BILL GRAVELAND Wed Dec 20, 11:05 AM ET
Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian troops and tanks rolled into a small town in the Panjwaii district Wednesday as Canada launched its first major offensive as part of Operation Baaz Tsuka.

Members of Charles Company Combat Team - consisting of two troops of Canadian Leopard tanks, a company of light armoured vehicles, three platoons of infantry, a company of Afghan National Army soldiers as well as artillery and support - left the forward operating base near the village of Bazar-e-Panjwaii early Wednesday as bright sunlight burst over the local mountains. The destination was Howz-e Madad, located just north of the Arghandab River.

"We've been like caged leopards I guess, waiting to get out on the prowl," said Cpl. Steve Hamel, 28, of Canal Flats, B.C. sitting in a long line of armoured vehicles.

"You'd be crazy not to be nervous but everybody's going to fall back on their training so it's all good. You get more of an adrenaline rush," he added.

The goal of the mission is to either kill or force hardline Taliban leaders to leave the Panjwaii-Zahre district, an area that was once the heartland of the Taliban, where Canadian troops have been in bloody skirmishes with them for the past several months.

My hope is that our troops slaughter as many of the bastards as they can find while taking minimum casualties. The rest of the above article is here:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Killing Zone

Here's another report from Sun Media's Doug Beazley embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan. I suspect Cpl. Singh won't hestitate to fire the next time.

Climb aboard Master Cpl. Andy Singh's Bison and enter ...

They were rolling down from Panjwayi to Kandahar Airfield, and they were halfway home when the radio started squawking.

Vehicle approaching on the left, coming slow. Black Toyota Corolla. One occupant. Everybody move to the right.

Master Cpl. Andy Singh was in the cockpit of his Bison transport, head and shoulders clear of the roof, his C-6 light machine gun pointed at the horizon, his finger on the trigger.


"We were doing about 60 kmh when the car came up on the left. I was sighting him with my gun," said Singh, rubbing the tips of his fingers together - still raw and red from where he lost the skin.

"I could see his face. He was a really young guy, maybe his early 20s, light beard. He looked me in the eyes.

"I swear ... and I know how this sounds ... he looked like he didn't want to do what he was going to do. He looked like he was saying 'sorry.' "
The next moment, a bright orange ball of light the size of a grapefruit burned away the suicide bomber's face. There was a loud crack, and the car dissolved in a ring of shrapnel.

Read the rest:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bill Roggio: Embedded with Marines and Iraqi Army in Fallujah

Bil Roggio, who blogs on The Fourth Rail, embedded with the Marines in Fallujah. The plan was to start in Fallujah and then move on to Ramadi, currently the most dangerous place in Iraq. Due to transportaion logistics which would have required two wasted days of downtime, Bill has decided to stay on in Fallujah. If James Baker of the illfated ISG and their 79 useless recommendations for succes in Iraq had bothered to come to Fallujah, perhaps they might have come up with some realistic recommendations. Bill has some.

The Military Transition Teams and the Development Iraqi Army
The MTT Mission; Successes and setbacks with the Iraqi Army

While critics of the Iraq Army continue to question the capabilities of the units and soldiers, a real move towards operational independence is occurring within the Iraqi Army. Last year, I embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines (the Teufelhunden) in Husaybah, as well as the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (The Raiders) in the Haditha Triad. The 3/6 was working with the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army, the most seasoned unit in the Army, while the 3/1 worked with the 7th Division, the greenest unit in the Iraqi Army. In western Anbar, a platoon of Marines paired up with a platoon of Iraqi Army soldiers in small outposts called Battle Positions. The Iraqi Army patrolled jointly with the Marines, and were directly dependent on the Marines for food, supplies, ammunition and transport.

The relationship between the Marines and the Iraqi Army has changed over the past year. The 1st Iraqi Army Division is now in the Fallujah region, and the 1st Brigade's sister unit, the 2nd Brigade, is now operating independently, with embedded Marine Military Transition Teams. Major David McCombs, the executive officer of the 3-2-1 MTT, said their mission is to “advise, assist and mentor the Iraqi Army, and what they do with this is up to them.” There is 1 MTT at the brigade level, and 1 MTT for each of the 3 light infantry battalions in the brigade.
The Marines of the 3rd Recon Military Transition Team (or MTT), advises the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division (3-2-1). The 3-2-1 MTT is made up of 15 personnel (11 trained MTTs with 4 augment Marines), who are embedded withing an Iraqi battalion (about 500 troops).

The MTT team is modeled after Special Forces teams, as training a foreign military force is a classic Special Forces mission. The team is top heavy with officers and senior non-commissioned officers. The 3-2-1 MTT is made up of 2 majors, 1 captain, 3 1st lieutenants, 2 gunnery sergeants, 1 staff sergeant and 2 sergeants. They live and work side by side with the Iraqi Army. The size of the unit and the unique, specialized mission causes the officers and senior enlisted to take on non-traditional roles such as drivers and gunners for convoys through the city on a daily basis.

Read the rest:

Friday, December 15, 2006

Five Months in The MOG

Michael Yon's Frontline Forum is a place where Soldiers can share their experinces. SGT Michael Waller served five months in Mogadishu during the period imortalized in the book and film Black Hawk Down.

5 Months In MOG

By Michael Waller

Veteran - Army

In August of ’93, I was at home in Michigan on a four day pass from my unit, the 227th General Supply (GS) Company, 1st Corps Support Command, headquartered at Ft. Campbell, KY, spending time with my son and my friends before our deployment to Somalia.
I remember getting a lot of questions about where I was going from my son Andrew, who was four at the time; many of which I couldn't answer out of pure ignorance. We found Somalia on the globe and I pointed to it, telling him it was right in the Indian Ocean. Andrew studied the globe and said, “I bet there are a lot of sharks.” The four day pass went by quickly and the time came to say good-bye to my son, my family and friends, and I drove the eight hours back to Ft. Campbell.

The train-up for Somalia at Ft. Campbell included a lot of time at ranges for all types of weapons, as well as convoy operations, field sanitation and combat life saver certifications. It seemed to us that the senior leaders were taking this deployment seriously.
On Aug. 17th, we were told to band and secure our wall lockers in the barracks, and be ready to fly within a two-hour window. That window came and went, and we were told the delay had to do with the possibility that the Somalis might have some type of SAM (surface to air missile), and that the flight had been canceled until further notice. We had already turned in our linen and slept on the bunks that night with no blankets. My roommate and best friend, Specialist (SPC) Mike Morrison, a tall kid from Marshalltown, Iowa, was still snoring when the alarm on my watch went off. Morrrison answered to his nickname, “Junior,” while off duty.

“Junior get up, we missed the flight!” I yelled.

He stumbled out of the rack looking for his glasses. I laughed and pointed at him.
“Dude relax, it's 0600 - let’s go to chow.”

Junior was not too happy about his wake-up call and was mumbling something about “dickhead” and “payback,” under his breath on the way to chow.

Our company was going to be escorting and delivering food and rations to units all over Somalia. As the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), I was going to Somalia as advance-party with several other NCO's and one Specialist/E-4, my “hootch-mate,” Junior. On Aug. 18th, at 1400 hours, we took the five-minute bus ride to the airfield at Ft. Campbell, boarded a C-141 transport plane, and took off on a 21-hour flight to Mogadishu, Somalia - otherwise known as “MOG.”

Read the rest here:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Doug Beazley Embedded With Canadian Troops in Afghanistan

Sun Media is one Canadian MSM that gets the War on Terror. They have sent Doug Beazley to cover the great job the troops are doin. In an email to me Doug wrote: "Personally I don't think the average Canadian knows how hard these guys work. I've got nothing but respect for them, and I pray they all make it home. DBZ" Me too. What follows is one of his posts:

Here comes trouble!

Abdoul Guindo has a knack for living dangerously

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- In the Force Protection unit at Kandahar Airfield, Sgt. Abdoul Guindo has an unrivalled reputation as a little one-man island of bad karma.
He's been here since August, leading convoys to and from the far-flung coalition outposts dotting the landscape around Kandahar City. He's been bombed, strafed and mortared at least 12 times ... maybe more. He lost count a couple of weeks ago.
"I prefer the phrase 'living legend' to 'crap magnet,' " he said, cackling.
He's 28, lives in Ottawa, just got married over a year ago. His wife just had a daughter, their first.
"I stopped counting after the first two attacks. I guess there's a kind of stigma that sticks with me. Our unit gets hit all the time."

Read the rest about the amzing Sergeant Abdoul Guindo here:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Teflon Don's Accute Politics

I've completely stopped being surprised by the talent of many of the American Soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan possess. The very fact that they are in the front lines but find time to share intelligent thoughts with us regarding the war is remarkable. What follows is a reprint of a remarkable post by a remarkable young Soldier who goes by the handle of Teflon Don:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The First Bone

Last night I sat alone on the porch and studied the pieces of a puzzle. It had come in a care package from home, and consisted of six small pieces of wood, of equal dimensions, with differing types of slots cut across them. I have no idea what the puzzle is supposed to look like, but I'm still trying to assemble the wooden bones into some coherent whole. As the parts move in my hands, they occasionally form into larger shapes, only to collapse because I've failed to incorporate all the parts at my disposal. In some ways, I see the puzzle as an analogy to Iraq. Many pieces must grow and fit together, or the nation that grows on them will eventually tumble and fall. I continue to stare at the bones of the puzzle, and begin to associate them with the forces that strive together attempting to form Iraq. The Military, The Media, Government, Religion. Other pieces lie on the table unnamed, representing forces I remain unaware of.

Over the next week or two, I plan on taking a post here and there to explain my opinions on these. I don't have a thesis or much of a rational, convincing argument; just thoughts spewed out on paper. First, I'll tackle The Military.

First, a sidenote:One of my biggest pet peeves is the attitude that says "Support the troops: Bring them home!". Last time I checked, the troops are all volunteers. Of course, that might change if Rep. Rangel gets his way and reinstates the draft, but for now, we've all chosen this life. If you claim to support the troops, listen to me: we do not want to be used as a political weapon. If we pull military forces out of Iraq before the Iraqis are fully capable of managing their own affairs, if we go home and leave Iraq in a downward spiral, if we fail in this task of nation building that we find ourselves at, then we doom the American military to a long period of even greater risks. It's your choice not to support the war; just don't pretend to support the troops while using them as a political tool.

Back on track:My area of operations in Eastern Anbar is largely free of the sectarian violence that plagues Baghdad and other areas of Iraq. The large Sunni population trades religious violence for killings directed against coalition forces and fellow Sunnis judged to be too friendly with CF or Shia government officials in Baghdad. Even if the CF were to leave Iraq, violence would continue among the Sunnis, who have been historically marginalized by powerful Shia in the new government.

Various talking heads stateside have been repeating the view that there is no military solution to the conflict in Iraq. In large part I agree: we can't simply kill all the insurgents, because in the process we create more insurgents. Even if we managed to kill them all, there are many factions who do not desire the same ends for Iraq. However, without some sort of partial military solution and a stable, violence-free environment, we cannot expect any lasting political solution. Iraqi forces are not ready to assume sole control of the country- the military is getting better, and in some areas operates outside of US control, but the police are plagued by widespread corruption. Something like 70% of police across the country have militia ties, according to the AP- not something you want if you're trying to enforce justice equally across all factions. Even the professionals in the military have reliability problems: in case you were wondering just how the best soldiers in the Iraqi army feel about the current political climate, The Times is there.

Obviously, "Stay the course" will lead us nowhere. Small wonder. It's a basic principle of counterinsurgency that no operation will succeed without the troops involved getting out among the local population, giving them a chance to associate and identify with their protectors. The current strategy tends more towards limiting "face time" with the locals because of the danger involved, preferring to spend more time behind berms and barb wire. Units that engage the local populace have enjoyed greater success in fighting the insurgency, as the British in the south have shown. If "Stay the course" isn't the answer, neither is "Set your course across the Atlantic". My chief fear now is that the military will not be allowed to pursue a course beneficial to Iraq, and will eventually be brought home with the job undone.

I never figured out how the puzzle went together.