Friday, January 11, 2008

Afganistan thoughts.

Just finished reading an article from

Quite an interesting perspective really. Here is the thoughts that it has left me with. Having been there, I think I have an interesting view.

Are we winning?

Well no. Honestly, every taliban you elimnate, 3 more appear, and I think that this conflict will never end. When we went to Bosnia, we had 2 sides fighting one another, and we were stuck in the middle trying to sort the mess out. The difference here, is now we are one side, the taliban are the other and the Afgan people are the ones stuck in the middle.

The reality is, this isnt a typcal war. There is no big prize at the end, like taking over germany and liberating the lands. There is no end goal except for ridding Afganistan of the terrorist force.

The war we trained for for so many year prior was always us vs. the soviets. We were desinged to defend ourselves from "Ivan the Red". That was what we were designed to do.

Then we evolved as a military as a peacekeeping/humanitarian force. In Kabul, we were employed as a sercurity/training/rebulding force, and Today, in Khandahar, we are less about rebuilding and training, and more about simple elimination of the Taliban. Something we can not win. The taliban doesnt wear a uniform. You cant tell them apart from the afgan population. They dont attack over the hills like an army. They send one guy in with a huge bomb and he tries to take out as many people as possible.

Were not designed for this function. I think the troops are doing an excellent job over there, but there is another hitch thats quickly beginning to show after 6 years of fighting in Afganistan.

The Canadian Forces arent exactly what you would call a huge army. There are more people living in some small Canadian cities, then there are in the Army, Navy, Airforce and reserve units combined. In comparison, when I was in Afganistan, we had 2100 troops. That was a lot of troops at the time. The americans has almost 21000. And this was while the war in Iraq was at its peak.

So whats happening here is were trying to fight a battle like we had 100000 troops. We dont. So we have to rotate the troops. Some on this base have 3-4 six month tours to Afganistan and the army is quickly beginning to loose its most important resource. Troops.

The troops are getting burnt out. Tired of the battle, and knowing full well that we arent going anywhere. Tired of being away from thier families at home. On my tour in 2005, we were all exicted to go. Finding people who would volunteer to go wasnt a problem. This day and age, its a problem.

Something else people dont really take into account it is the work going on back home. In my unit, we pride ourselves with training specialised medical troops to go overseas. This is no small endeavor. Each year, we go to Alberta with a mobile hospital. Twice a year to train these people. We used to do it in our own compound, and fly the prospective troops in. On the average, it can take 26 or more tractor-trailer loads to move the hospital. We have 6 drivers. A month ahead of the excerize, we begin moving. Stay for the exersize ( a month roughly) and spend the last moth moving it back. A month to clean and repac, and then we do it again in the fall.

6 months gone in a flash. Not to mention in between, take off 2 months for summer and xmas leave.. Add in 2 months of preparation for the Alberta runs, a divers ed class or two, and other tasks, and you can see how the truckers are getting burnt out.

Add in the fact that only certain drivers are qualified to do certain jobs. All of us can do it, with training, but were so busy training everyone else, we dont have time to train ourselves. So the same guys get stuck with 6 months or so away from home. Every year. As drivers in other units begin to refuse tours, other units loose thier drivers to go to Afganistan, causing shortages, and massive burnouts. Old troops have to go because they have the qualifications, new troops cant get qualifications because the old ones are overseas, or busy drriving.

Eventually what will happen is, the enevitable. The older guys will retire, taking thier qualifications with them. Then the newer guys will not be able to get what they need. The trade is basically slowly self-destructing.

Why? Well went Canada signed into Afganistan, I dont think they fully saw how involved we would be. Spending is already $7.2 billion dollars plus. Canada has lost over 70 men and women to the cause, and even more are injured. Some even have PTSD and this can cause massive problems to thier home life and beyond.

In the end, Canada bit off more then it could chew from the get-go. The forces are spent, and worn out. I think its time to cut our losses, accept that we did make a difference, and call it a day.

Pull the plug Canada. Make the army bigger then what it is, then try again.

There is no shame. And we need a bigger paycheck too.

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