Tuesday, October 30, 2007

White guys with guns: Canada's military in Afghanistan

White guys with guns: Canada's military in Afghanistan

by Dave Markland, a member of the Vancouver Parecon Collective, organizes with StopWar.ca and contributes to their blog chronicling Canada's war in Afghanistan: www.stopwarblog.blogspot.com

Some quotes from the article. Lots more where this came from, fully referenced.

"In total, some 2500 personnel make up the conventional forces deployed in Afghanistan. Additionally, an unknown number of JTF-2 special forces work alongside special forces from the US and other countries as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Very little is known about their role."
The one Canadian member of the JTF-2 who was killed hardly even made it onto the public radar. I found the guy's name by accident (Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer) on a military uberfan's blog when I was trying to find out who he was and what he was doing. They said he fell from a communications tower. What was he doing up there? Sniping, perhaps? We'll never know. But there was no ramp ceremony, no pictures of the body's return, no publicized military funeral. Really strange.

"...A Norwegian newspaper caused a stir early this year when it reported on sworn testimony by several US interrogators who had worked at the [Kandahar] base and described some of the goings-on, including the widespread use of torture."

Everybody else is doing it. I don't see any reason why Canadians would be an exception, especially since there is so much joint training with the U.S. military.

"Another soldier reports vengeance and geopolitics as his motivator: "I have absolutely no problem killing them," asserts a battle group sergeant. "They started this on September 11. We're just bringing the fight back to them"
Wonderful - ignorance of what's really going on combined with unfocused rage and a gun. Only good could come out of that.

"Shortly after arrival in Kandahar, members of the Van Doos regiment "étaient un peu frustrés de participer à une mission de reconstruction et auraient préféré combattre à leur arrivée en Afghanistan." ("were a little frustrated to be taking part in a reconstruction mission and would have preferred to fight upon their arrival in Afghanistan").
I guess all those "Fight...fight...fight" recruiting ads for the Canadian military have worked. Always attracts the best and the brightest.

"If all this Rambo-style readiness sounds to some like an echo of American military bravado, there may be good reason for it. Working in close quarters with their US counterparts seems to have caused a certain mindset to rub off on Canadian officers..."
Great role models.

"One of the key tools in Canada's version of "peacemaking", the British-made M777 Howitzer gun, which can shoot 6 inch-diameter bullets a distance of 30km (22 miles), has reportedly been dubbed the “Desert dragon” by insurgent fighters. Acquired by the Canadian Forces in the fall of 2005, the weapon has gained a devoted fan base among military brass. "When the infantry, for example, come up against a couple of houses where they would suffer casualties going in and clearing that house of the enemy, even though they would win, it's sort of nice to be able to stand back and turn to the tanker and say, 'Take that house out.'" So explained retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, who has been doing near full-time public relations for the war. Afghan bystanders, ceaselessly endangered by NATO operations, might disagree with MacKenzie that the experience is "sort of nice".
Winning hearts and minds, one atomized Afghan at a time.

And we're even hiring our own mercenaries. Is this the proper use for Canadian's money? Would they agree if they were asked? I doubt it. That's why we're not asked.
"Canadian forces, too, are getting in on the action. "For five years Col. Toorjan, a turbaned, tough-as-nails, 33-year-old soldier, has been working alongside U.S. and Canadian forces in Afghanistan as a paid mercenary commander," reports Canada's National Post. "Today, his militia force of 60 Afghan fighters guards Camp Nathan Smith, the Canadian provincial reconstruction team site (PRT) in Kandahar, and guides Canadian soldiers on their patrols outside the base." Toorjan and his armed men "wield significant influence in Kandahar's complex security web", making him a treasured ally, though before 9/11 he was "in effect a warlord", said the second-in-command of Canada's Provincial Reconstruction Team."

The use of mercenaries, it should be noted, runs counter to the International Convention on Mercenaries (1989). Canada, however, along with the USA, the UK and many others, is not a signatory to that treaty.
Just like the Americans. Never sign treaties that might prevent you from doing horrible things. That way, your ass is covered.

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