Sangsar, Panjawi Disctrict, Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
Canadian and Afghan National Army troops move at night, and engage Taliban forces at dawn. The firefight drags trough the morning. A wounded talib is given first aid and evacuated by a US helicopter to Kandahar Airfield for treatments.
Notice the bullets and RPG rounds wizzing by close to the cameraman. Wicked.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Sangsar, Panjawi Disctrict, Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
POLITICIANS NEED TO BACK SOLDIERS
By SALIM MANSUR
The debate over Canada's role in Afghanistan is the type in which democracies engage, and Canadian soldiers on a mission in harm's way need to know they have the government, Parliament and the people of Canada behind them.
This debate, however, will be heard beyond Canada and it will indicate, despite spin doctoring, that a parliamentary majority is lacking for Ottawa to meet its obligation to the UN-mandated and NATO-led mission to support the Afghan people and the elected government in Kabul.
It will send a message that Canadians are unwilling to see their soldiers engaged in combat missions, and that among the NATO members there is insufficient commitment to sending the minimum number of troops requested for deployment alongside Canadian soldiers in the Kandahar region, where the Taliban insurgency remains robust.
And the message will be unmistakable.
It will tell the enemies of the Afghan people -- Taliban insurgents and al Qaida terrorists -- that while the West is not about to cut and run from fighting, it does not have the stomach to stay in the fight for the length of time needed to eliminate them.
This is what Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar have been telling al Qaida and Taliban fighters from their hideouts in the mountainous caves of the Hindu Kush on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
This is also what the Afghan people fear, given their past experience of being abandoned by the West after the former Soviet Union withdrew its communist army of occupation in 1989. At stake are the hard-won gains made since 2002 by a society liberated from the cruel grips of savage fighters and foreign terrorists.
But there will be others -- Iranian clerics, Hezbollah and Hamas leaders, Syrian and North Korean dictators, Chinese leaders and African tyrants who have made wastelands of their countries -- hearing the message that the West, except for the United States, is reluctant militarily to secure interests beyond its immediate frontier.
The debate in Ottawa and in the European capitals is revealing about where the world's richest democracies stand in confronting Islamists -- the contemporary enemies of freedom and democracy -- and those who might well be the future enemies in a century that is barely a decade old.
Canada is a member of the original G-7 and a founding member of NATO together with Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
The economy of these allies taken together exceeds $12 trillion. Their combined population is close to 300 million.
Yet the message over the Afghan mission is that these rich democracies are reluctant to send soldiers into combat against an enemy possessing neither an economy nor holding territory -- an enemy that is more or less a pack of medieval-minded brigands. Also an enemy that can well be eliminated with the required resolve, as the American soldiers have succeeded in doing in Iraq.
If Canada and its NATO allies are unwilling to engage in combat missions in Afghanistan, why then should anyone have any faith that the West will defend itself in its own backyard, or intervene militarily elsewhere to prevent Rwanda-type genocide?
The Afghan mission was not designed to test the collective will of NATO countries, nor the leadership capacity of its richest members and show them wanting, yet it has come down to this unpalatable truth.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Route clearance involves going out ahead of foot patrols to find and destroy IED's in heavily armoured vehicles. It is dangerous and exhausting work; sometimes patrols went on for 36 hours continuously.
Now he is going back to Iraq as an embedded photo-journalist. You can donate to his embed by buying one of his photos at his website. (See the post New News for the link.)
TD's flight was delayed, so he will try agin tomorrow. In the meantime he writes:
" The trouble I had at the security checkpoint turned out to be for naught. My flight was delayed to the point that I would positively miss the connector to my flight across the Atlantic, so I rescheduled for the next flight out and called my girlfriend: “Hey babe… Want to say goodbye to me again?”
I’m sure it’s a little cruel to shift someone so quickly between tears and laughter, but I needed a ride home. My bag went on without me to my final point of departure from the United States- hopefully it will make it to the Middle East along with me, or I might get to soak up more Kuwaiti sand than I really want to.
Once I get to Kuwait, I will likely be unable to update for some time. I’m told that the damaged cables the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf have brought internet access in the region to a virtual (heh heh) standstill. In the meantime, spread the word that Teflon Don is back in the suck and blogging again." http://acutepolitics.blogspot.com/
Cpl. Etienne Gonthier from St-Georges-de-Beauce was killed by a roadside bomb on Jan. 23.
The 21-year-old was on his first foreign mission and was due to return from his stint in Kandahar in March.
He had just been promoted to corporal from sapper, but the news didn't have time to reach him before he died.
On Saturday his brothers in arms saluted the man, called Jelly bean by friends, for his commitment to the military.
"He's the kind of guy that always did his best with conviction and that was taking care of others," Sgt. Jean-Francois de Wolfe told all-news channel LCN.
"No matter our living and working conditions, Etienne never complained. He was always in good spirits. That's what I'll remember," Cpl. Philippe Arvisais also told LCN.
Gonthier was the 78th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002. He would have turned 22 yesterday.
I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.