Saturday, March 21, 2009

Operation Jaley

Operation Jaley, during which four Canadian Soldiers died, was the largest joint Canadian-American operation since the Korean War.

Op Jaley, which lasted for three days, began Tuesday with a special forces assault. The operation eventually involved about 2,000 coalition troops and a large number of coalition aircraft. It included several firefights between the Taliban and Canadian and Afghan forces.

The Canadians, along with Afghan and American forces, were dispatched to interfere with insurgent attempts to organize to "attack the population, threaten Kandahar City and ultimately threaten the elections" that are slated for late August, said Brigadier-General Jon Vance, commander of Canadian Forces Afghanistan.

Speaking specifically about what happened in Zahri, which has been a constant source of danger and death for Canadian troops, the general said: "We did fight on a couple of occasions and we caused far more insurgency casualties than they did to us. It certainly is not a body count effort but we do not operate as if we are a bunch of potential victims. We are a force to be reckoned with when we operate in an area like this."

While expressing great regret and sorrow at the loss of four of his soldiers Vance said: "I believe the lasting result of this will be to force the insurgents to work much harder to re-create their IED capacity. This is one step in many of the way to securing the elections in August."

Among the goals of Op Jaley was to find IED making facilities and disrupt Taliban preparations for the Afghan fighting season, which usually ramps up in late March or early April. The operation was mostly conducted in lightly populated areas that have been abandoned by farmers - who have fled to the relative safety of Kandahar City and surrounding communities while Taliban command-and-control operatives have moved in.

During the 3 day operation enough explosive material to make between 30 and 50 homemade bombs was discovered this week during a major combat operation in southern Afghanistan in which four Canadians soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices.

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