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October 02, 2006

The story of C Company

CAPT H sends us to this article in the Toronto Star.

It starts out like this:

The story of C Company Sep. 30, 2006. 05:44 AM MITCH POTTER MIDDLE EAST BUREAU

PANJWAII DISTRICT, Afghanistan—One must turn back time several generations to find Canadian soldiers in the state that Charlie Company finds itself today. Not since the Korean War has a single Canadian combat unit been so cut to pieces so quickly.

Either of the two events that rocked their world in the dust-caked hills of southern Afghanistan one month ago might qualify as the worst day of their lives. That they came back-to-back — one disastrous morning followed by another even worse — is a matter of almost incomprehensibly bad fortune.

The epic double-whammy — a perfect Taliban ambush of unprecedented intensity, followed one day later by a devastating burst of "friendly fire" from a U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog — reduced Charlie to a status of "combat ineffective." They were the ones to fire the opening shots of Operation Medusa. But even as the massive Canada-led assault was gathering steam they were finished.

The soldiers left standing are not the same today as the ones who deployed to Afghanistan with nothing but good intentions barely seven weeks ago, as part of 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont.

A few are emotional wrecks, too fragile still to speak of what transpired during that fateful Labour Day long weekend. Others bleed anger from their every pore.

Some cling to wounded pride, anxious for it to be known that if not for enormous self-sacrifice, the volume of Canadian blood shed these two mornings would have been vastly greater.

Others are disillusioned, having come to regard their work in Afghanistan as a mission impossible. And others still are more driven than ever to succeed, if only to lend greater meaning to the loss of their fallen Canadian brothers.

The survivors of Charlie Company are closer now than they were before. And the other thing they have in common is a need to tell their story, which they do today for the first time.

Read the whole thing via the link above. What makes it blogworthy is John's take on it:

This is from a "PROGRESSIVE" newspaper, whose support for the Afghan war is very soft. They tend to support the idea that we should be conducting "peacekeeping" and "development" operations in a safer corner of the country; or be trying to sort out Darfur, where we have no integral access. Any place where war is not a factor.

I was intrigued that the reporter managed to satisfy his editors with the requisite horror of "blood shed in an unnecessary cause", while hinting that C Company has not really been broken/destroyed by this battle, and the pers were regirding themselves for further combat.

Cheers
John

I went looking for pictures to support this post, and so I went to the Canadian Department of Defence news website. Two things struck me this morning.

1. Their web banner is much more... militant than the old one (which I wish I had saved, now).

© Canada Ministry of Defence

2. Their photo site (at least at the moment, these things tend to be pretty dynamic) seem spend an awful lot of space on their casualties and associated ramp ceremonies (at least if you type in "Afghanistan" as a keyword) and other picture selections and captions seemingly try to emphasize how safe they're trying to make it. Like this one.

English/Anglais<br />
AR2006-P008 0044<br />
16 Sept 2006<br />
Kandahar, Afghanistan<br />
Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA. </p>

<p>Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.</p>

<p>Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.</p>

<p>Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney<br />
TFA OP ATHENA<br />
Imagery Technician

English/Anglais AR2006-P008 0044 16 Sept 2006 Kandahar, Afghanistan Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA.

Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.

Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.

The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney
TFA OP ATHENA
Imagery Technician

It's cherry-picking, to be sure, just going with my gut on first impressions this morning.

Mind you - our national characters are different, and the DND has a much different political/social environment to operate in - I just found the difference between their pictures and captions and ours bemusing.