BATTLE OF PANJAWAI AND BEYOND
Hey everybody! First off I apologize for the length of this email, as it contains two weeks worth of Afghanistan fun. I am doing well and brutally honest I have enjoyed this last couple of weeks. Seven years of training culminating in 14 action packed days. At first I wasn’t going to write a lot of detail about what happened, because some people might find it upsetting. However, when I got back to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) and read the deplorable media coverage that the largest operation Canadians have been involved in since Korea, I really felt I had to write it all down, to give you all (and hopefully everyone you talk to back in Canada) an appreciation for what we are really doing here in this “state of armed conflict” (lawyers say we can’t use the word “war”, I don’t know what the difference is except for it being far more politically correct.)
We received word while down at our Forward Operating Base (FOB) that we were going to be part of a full out three day (HA HA) Battle Group operation. This was going to be the largest operation Canada had undertaken since the Korean War. When we arrived back in KAF for orders we found out that we were rolling for Pashmul in the Panjawai District of Kandahar province. That was hard for my crew to hear, as that was the same town where Nichola had died and where Bombadier Chris Gauthier (a signaler in the party before I arrived) had been injured in an ambush. Participating in this attack were A, B and C Company (Coy.) Groups, both troops of artillery from A Battery, an Engineer squadron, two Companies of Afghan National Army (plus all of their attached American Embedded Training Teams – ETT), as well as a huge lineup of American and British Fixed and Rotary wing aircraft. Additionally, we had elements of the 2/87 US Infantry and 3 Para from the UK conducting blocks to prevent the enemy from escaping. From an Artillery perspective beyond the two gun troops (each equipped with 2 x155mm Howitzers and 4 x 81mm mortars) we had three Forward Observation Officers (FOO) and their parties as well as the Battery Commander and his party going in on the attack.
On the night of the 7th around 2200 hrs local C Company Group (with yours truly attached as their FOO) rolled for Pashmul. As we arrived closer to the objective area we saw the women and children pouring out of the town… not a good sign. We pushed on and about 3 km from our intended Line of Departure to start the operation we were ambushed by Taliban fighters. At around 0030hrs I had my head out of the turret crew commanding my LAV with my night vision monocular on. Two RPG rounds thundered into the ground about 75m from my LAV. For about half a second I stared at them and thought, “huh, so that’s what an RPG looks like.” The sound of AK 7.62mm fire cracking all around the convoy snapped me back to reality and I quickly got down in the turret and we immediately began scanning for the enemy. They were on both sides of us adding to the “fog of war”. We eventually figured out where all of our friendlies were, and where to begin engaging. We let off about 20 rounds of Frangible 25mm from our cannon at guys about a 100m away before we got a major jam in our link ejection chute. We went to our 7.62 coax machine gun, and fired one round before it too jammed!! Boy was I pissed off. I went to jump up on the pintol mounted machine gun, but as I stuck my head out of the LAV I realized the bad guys were still shooting at us and that the Canadian Engineers were firing High Explosive Incendiary 25mm rounds from their cannon right over our front deck. I quickly popped back down realizing that was probably one of the stupider ideas I have ever had in my life J Eventually after much cursing and beating the crap out of the link ejection chute with any blunt instrument we could find in the turret, we were back in the game. The first Troops in Contact (TIC) lasted about two hours. The radio nets were busier than I had ever heard before and we realized that A and B Coys. as well as Reconnaissance Platoon had all been hit simultaneously, showing a degree of coordination not seen before in Afghanistan. The feeling amongst the Company was that was probably it, as the enemy usually just conducted hit and run attacks. Boy, were we wrong! We continued to roll towards our Line of Departure and not five minutes later as we rolled around a corner, I saw B Coy. on our left flank get hit with a volley of about 20 RPGs all bursting in the air over the LAVs. It was an unreal scene to describe. There was no doubt now that we were in a big fight.
We pushed into the town following the Company Commander behind the lead Platoon. This was not LAV friendly country. The entire area was covered in Grape fields, which due to the way they grow them are not passable to LAVs, and acres of Marijuana fields which due to irrigation caused the LAVs to get stuck. The streets were lined with mud compounds and mud walls just barely wide enough to get our cars through. After traveling about 300m our lead platoon came under attack from a grape drying hut in the middle of what can only be described as an urban built up area. The Company Commander then issued a quick set of frag orders and I was about to participate in my first ever Company attack. He signaled for me to dismount and follow him. It was an uncomfortable feeling dismounting from the turret, as the only way out is through the top of the turret. I was standing probably 15 feet high in the air with friendly and hostile rounds snapping and cracking in the air everywhere. Needless to say I got down quick. I went to the back of my LAV and banged on the door to signal we were dismounting. As the Master Bombardier opened the door he went pale as we were only 20m from where they had previously been ambushed and where Nich had died. Regardless, we soldiered on. We grabbed our radios and followed the Company Commander. We went into a compound that was actually the same one Howie Nelson had dropped a 1,000lb bomb on after the attack in May. We went up to a second story ledge on a mud wall, and the Company Commander pointed out a compound and said “can you hit that?” I lased the building and found out it was only 89m away. Back in Canada we never bring Artillery in much closer than a 1000m, so you can imagine what I was thinking. I sat down and did the math (those of you who know my mathematical skills are probably cringing right now!). I looked at him and said that in theory and mathematically we would be okay where we were, but I made him move one of the other Platoons back 150m. A funny story as I was doing the math, an American ETT Captain working with the ANA looked down at me and said “There are no ANA forward of us” I responded “Roger”, to which he said “good” fired three rounds and said “Got him”. I then realized that he had asked me a question and had not stated a fact (for some reason everyone seems to think that the FOO magically knows where all the friendlies are). Through all the gunfire I had missed the infliction in his voice. I looked at him and said, “Hey, I have no idea where your ANA are, you’re supposed to look after them!” Luckily it wasn’t a friendly he had shot at.
We started the Fire Mission with the first round landing about 350m from my position. The noise of Artillery whistling that close and exploding was almost deafening, the FOO course sure hadn’t prepared me for this! Master Bombardier and I debated the correction for a second and eventually agreed upon a Drop 200m, mostly because we needed to get rounds on that compound ASAP as we were taking heavy fire. The round came in and landed a bit left of the compound. We lased the impact and found out it was 105m from us. We gave a small correction and went into Fire For Effect with 50% Ground Burst and 50% Air Burst. The rounds came in 85m from us, right on the compound. Truly I did not appreciate the sheer frightening and awe-inspiring nature of proximity (the air burst rounds). I then had the worst moment of my military career as one of the Sections began shouting “Check Fire, Check Fire!” on the net, followed quickly by their Platoon Commander saying they had casualties and to prepare for a 9 Line (air medical evacuation request). It turned out the two events were unrelated but for a while I thought I had injured or even worse killed a Canadian. In actuality the Section that called Check Firing was actually the furthest of anyone in the Company from the shells and had panicked (which led to a lot of ribbing and jokes from their buddies afterwards who had all been closer). The 9 Line was for an ANA soldier who had been struck 5 minutes before. However unfortunate, I was definitely relieved to here all that.
Day one carried on with several more small skirmishes and me moving from compound to compound to set up Observation Posts (OPs), from which I could support the Company’s movement. I never thought that in my career I would literally be kicking in doors and leading a three man stack, clearing room after room to get to my OPs.
We ended the day, which had seen us in contact for 12 straight hours, by sleeping beside our vehicle in full battle rattle for about an hour with sand fleas biting us. They are the single most ignorant and annoying bug ever. The next morning started off with what seemed like a benign task. We were to clear the grape fields to the south of our objective area. Intelligence said there was nobody there and this would only take us a couple of hours. About an hour into the clearing operation we came under contact from a heavily fortified compound. Unfortunately we had a young fellow killed early in the engagement when the infantry tried to storm the compound. They met fierce resistance, far greater than expected. (I didn’t know the young soldier personally, but do recall thinking how fearless he was a week earlier when I saw him running around the Brit compound with a Portuguese flag right after England had lost in the World Cup. I was impressed by his peers and friends and how professionally they carried on after his death.) After the attempted storming of the compound, the Company Commander came to me and said “right, we tried that the old fashioned way, now I want you to level that compound.” As I was coming up with a plan for how I would do this, we had a call sign I had never heard before check in. It was Mobway 51. Ends up he was a Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle armed with a hellfire missile. I don’t know how he knew we needed help or what frequency we were using, and frankly I don’t care, he was a blessing. When the Company Commander asked me what the safety distance for a hellfire was I literally had to go to the reference manual I carry (J Fires Manual) because I had never seen one before and had no idea what it actually could do. I told him the safety distance was 100m. To which he asked how far we were from the compound – the laser said 82m. We debated the ballistic strength of the mud wall beside us and in the end he decided to risk it. Nothing like seeing an entire Company in the fetal position pressed up against a mud wall! The hellfire came in and it was the loudest thing I have ever heard. Three distinct noises: the missile firing, it coming over our heads and the boom. For about 30 seconds we couldn’t see anything but a cloud of dust.
Then when the dust settled the Platoons started hooting and hollering. The compound barely even looked the same. (At this point our embedded journalist Christie Blanchford from the Globe and Mail had enough and left us, can’t blame her I guess.) The Company again tried to clear the compound but still met resistance. So we lobbed in 18 artillery shells 82m from us (even closer than the day before) and then brought in two Apache Attack Helicopters. On the second rocket attack (I actually have video of this) the pilot hit the target with his first rocket and the second one went long and landed just on the other side of the mud wall from us. It engulfed us in rocket exhaust, but thankfully no one was hurt. When the hellfire had gone off it had started a small building in the compound on fire and suddenly we started getting secondary explosions off of a weapons cache that was in it. Everything started exploding around us, and the two guys that had not listened to me to press up against the wall got hit with shrapnel, both in the legs. One was the Company Commander’s Signaler, a crazy Newf, who was cracking jokes even with shrapnel in his leg. The medic dealt with him and I went over to the American ETT Captain who was only a few feet from me and began doing first aid on him. He looked liked he was going into shock, until his American Sergeant came up behind me and said “Shit Sir, that’s barely worth wearing a Purple Heart for!” I was surprised how much first aid I actually remembered, and the only difficult part was trying to cut off his pant leg because American combats are designed not to tear, making them particularly difficult to cut! In the end we took the compound and captured a high level Taliban leader who was found by the infantry hiding in a sewage culvert, begging for the shelling to stop. As well, we found a major weapons cache, which the engineers took great delight in blowing up. Unfortunately the assault had cost us one killed, two wounded, a Section commander had blown his knee throwing a grenade and four guys had gone down to extreme heat exhaustion. We found out though that this was a Taliban and Al Qaeda hot bed and that they had been reinforced by Chechen and Tajik fighters (which I guess means we really got a chance to take on Al Qaeda and not just the Taliban).
Day three was uneventful for C Coy. and we prepared to go back to our FOB. Which would have been good because I had come down with a cold… not what I needed in combat (umm, I mean state of armed conflict!) Unfortunately that was not to be. A British Company from 3 Para had been isolated and surrounded by Taliban in the Helmand Province in the Sangin District Center. They were running out of food and were down to boiling river water. They had tried to air drop supplies but they ended up landing in a Taliban stronghold (thank you air force). C Coy. was tasked to conduct an immediate emergency resupply with our LAVs. We headed off to what can only be described as the Wild West. The Company (B Coy) of the Paras that was holding the District Center had lost four soldiers there and was being attacked 3 to 5 times a day. We rolled in there after a long and painful road move across the desert. When we arrived in Sangin the locals began throwing rocks and anything they could at us, this was not a friendly place. We pushed into the District Center, and during the last few hundred meters we began receiving mortar fire.
They never taught me on my LAV Crew Commander course how to command a vehicle with all the hatches closed using periscopes in an urban environment. I truly did it by sense of touch, meaning as we hit the wall to the left I would tell the driver to turn a little right!! We resupplied the Brits and unfortunately it turned dark and we couldn’t get out of there, so we had to spend the night. We were attacked with small arms RPGs and mortars three times that night, I still can’t believe that the Brits have spent over a month living there under those conditions. They are a proud unit and they were grateful but embarrassed that we had to come save the day. And as good Canadians we didn’t let them hear the end of being rescued by a bunch of colonials!!
We left Sangin again thinking we were headed home. We made it about 40km before we were called back to reinforce the District Center and help secure a helicopter landing site. As we sat there we received orders that we were now cut to the control of 3 Para for their upcoming operation north of Sangin. This was turning out to be the longest three day operation ever!!! Enroute we were engaged by an 82mm mortar from across a valley. I engaged them with our artillery, it felt a lot more like shooting in Shilo as they were 2.8km away as opposed to the 100m or less my previous engagements had been. We went round for round with them in what Rob, the Troop Commander firing the guns for us, called an indirect fire duel. In the end he said the score was Andrew 1 Taliban O and there is no worry of that mortar ever firing again. We rode all through the night (with my LAV on a flat tire) and arrived right as the Paras Air Assaulted onto the objective with Chinook helicopters. There were helicopters everywhere. It was a hot landing zone and they took intense fire until we arrived with LAVs, and the enemy ran away. It was a different operation as we were used to a lot more intimate support tanks to shoot the Paras in. It was impressive to watch them though, they are unbelievable soldiers.
We left the operation about 25 hours later (still3 going on no sleep) and thought that for sure we were now done this “three day op”. But as we were withdrawing to secure the landing zone for the Brits (under fire from 107mm rockets and 82mm mortars) we received Frag orders to conduct a sensitive sight exploitation where the Division had just dropped two 1000lbs bombs. Good old C Coy. leading the charge again!
We drove to the sight and saw nothing but women and children fleeing the town. I thought, “here we go again.” Luckily this time I found a good position for observation with my LAV and did not have to go in on the attack. The Company quickly came under attack from what was later estimated as 100+ fighters. For about 15 minutes we lost communications with the Company Commander and a whole Section of infantry as they were basically overrun. The Section had last been seen going into a ditch that was subsequently hit with a volley of about 15 RPGs; I thought we had lost them all. I had Brit Apaches check in and they did an absolutely brilliant job at repelling the enemy. The only problem was I couldn’t understand a word the pilot was saying because of his accent! Luckily I had the Brit Liaison Officer riding in the back of my LAV. I ended up using him (a Major) as a very highly paid interpreter to help me out. After about an hour long fight the Company broke contact (but lived up to the nickname the soldiers had given us, “Contact C”) and we leveled several compounds with artillery. Somehow we escaped without a scratch, truly amazing.
We were again ordered back to the Sangin District Center with 3 Para and spent the next few days fighting with the Paras. For four days I did not get a chance to take off my Frag vest, helmet or change my socks, etc. We were attacked 2-3 times a day, and always repelled them decisively. I also discovered during this period that exchanging rations with the Brits is a really bad idea. Not only were they stuck in this miserable place but their food was absolutely horrible!
After saying our good byes to our Brit comrades (the enemy learnt their lesson and finally stopped attacking the place), we again prepared to go back home. Alas, it was not to be again. We were ordered South to take back to towns that the Taliban had just taken. Luckily this time after 11 straight days in contact, C Coy. was the Battle Group reserve. We headed to the British Provincial Reconstruction team (PRT). We rolled into the town to the strangest arrival yet. This was coalition country. The locals (unlike Kandahar and even more so in Sangin) were excited and happy to see us. We had kids offering us candy and water instead of begging. There were no Burkhas. The women were in colorful gowns with their faces exposed. The town was booming with shops everywhere and industry flourishing. We went to the PRT and it didn’t even seem real. I took off my helmet, Flak vest and I had a shower and changed my clothes for the first time in two weeks. I ate a huge fresh meal (until my stomach hurt), and then went and sat on the edge of a water fountain in garden and watched a beach volleyball game between the Brits and Estonians. I laughed as I had supper and watched the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) which was reporting that we had taken back the towns, but H Hour was still 2 hours away, so much for the element of surprise. After what we had been through it was hard to believe this place was in the same country. I slept that night (still on the ground beside my LAV because they did not have enough rooms) better than I think I have before in my life. The next couple of days were quiet for us as they did not need to commit us as the reserve. On day 14 of our 3 day op we conducted the 10 hour road move back to KAF, literally limping back as our cars were so beat up (mine was in the best shape in the entire Company and we had a broken differential … again).
Things look like they will be quieter for us now, and I will be home soon. Sad news from the home front, our little Yorkie, Howitzer, was in an accident the other day and didn’t make it. It won’t be the same going home without him, he truly was one of our kids (furkids!). We had three great years with him though and my only regret is that I wasn’t there to comfort Julianne who has been through so much lately. But she has some great friends their who have looked after her. To those of you who have been with her through this and the events of the last few months, I am forever indebted to you.
There are more stories I could tell of these last two weeks but this email has become long enough as it is and if I did that I would have no war stories (I mean state of armed conflict stories) to tell you when I get home. I will end by saying that I have truly enjoyed this experience. Combat is the ultimate test of an officer, and on several occasions I did things that I didn’t know I was capable of. I am so proud of my crew and the entire Company Group, we soldiered hard and long and showed the enemy that messing with Canadians is a really bad idea. We accomplished something in the last two weeks that Canadian soldiers have not done since Korea. The Afghan Government, elected by the Afghans, requested our assistance and we were able to help. We were the equal, if not superior of our allies in everything we did. I hope that I gave you all an appreciation of what these young brave men and women are doing over here, and even if the media can’t find the time or effort to report what we are doing and the difference we are making, hopefully you can pass it on. I will see all of you real soon. I hope all is well with all of you, and please keep the emails coming, I read every one and enjoy hearing from you, even if I cannot respond individually.
Batte For Kandhar
The Pajawai battle killed the Taliban the rtegime and becama e period of somewhat stability.
|Battle of Panjwaii|
|Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)|
Afghan National Army
|Commanders and leaders|
| Michaëlle Jean|
Governor General of Canadaand
Commander-in-Chief of Canada
Minister of National Defence
|Local Taliban commanders|
|Casualties and losses|
16 killed, 50 wounded
|NATO estimates up to/over 1,000 killed, CENTCOM estimates up to 500 killed throughout whole of period.|
Solar-powered streetlights recently installed in Panjawai.
To provide the people with greater freedom of movement by day and at night, the regional command proposed that USAID install solar streetlights along the road running through Panjawai’s market area. In addition to contributing to safety and security, the streetlights would also support regional stabilization efforts and local economic development.
Panjawai is a major city that lies in the heart of Kandahar Province, a long-time Taliban stronghold. In 2010, Afghan and international military forces conducted clearing operations that drove the Taliban out of the area to protect the people of Panjawai from Taliban interference, intimidation, and violence.
USAID was quick to accept the recommendation and by the end of the year, had erected twelve solar streetlights, which are now providing illumination through the night for Panjawai’s market bazaar and a nearby mosque.Each of the 120 watt streetlights comprises an encased high-efficiency LED lamp, a PV panel, deep-cycle battery, timer, and pole. The PV-powered streetlights are capable of providing light all night long, even after several consecutive cloudy days. They can be used even if electric power is available, as the reduced load and energy savings translate into lower operating costs.The systems are warranted by the installer for two years. The PV modules themselves are guaranteed for 25 years, and future battery replacements are not anticipated until after five to seven years.
USAID and the installer, along with other local renewable energy companies, are planning maintenance and repair strategies, including battery recycling and exchange services.Installation of the streetlights presented USAID and the local installer, Zularistan, with numerous challenges, including customs delays, transportation problems, and security threats. These were ultimately overcome to the satisfaction of Panjawai’s market-goers and In the words of one evening shopper,
“The lights make crossing the road safer, and the shops are open longer. This is a good thing for us!”
|Old Soviet Russian... Pajwai is to the lower left.|
Part 1: The Long Road
Part 2: Our legacy in Kandahar
DiManno: A glimpse of the ‘why’ in Panjwaii
KANDAHAR—Among his more sombre duties, Maj. Rob Marois has had the responsibility of telling families who make the mournful odyssey to Afghanistan where and how and why their loved ones sacrificed all.
“I show them where a son or husband or brother has died.’’
For relatives seeking some finality, or merely hoping to feel the presence of a dear person in the place where last they drew breath, the long voyage to Kandahar Air Field ends with a spot pointed out on a map during a briefing, an imagining at closer proximity, and with this kernel of enlightenment they must be satisfied: unfamiliar names like Mushan and Zangabad, Pashmul and Musa Kala, too-familiar scenarios of roadside explosions and suicide attacks.
The need to know details is overwhelming, especially for military families from whom so much has been asked.
But it’s the why that lingers and haunts — probably more so, indignantly, among Canadians who’ve risked nothing in this country, have never and would never set foot in it, and are not remotely acquainted with soldiers who’ve done tours of duty here. For them, the nearly six-year combat mission — now ticking down to its final days — was always a poorly understood foray of dubious merit and infinitesimal impact, unworthy of a single compatriot’s life.
Why should 156 Canadians have died here? To what end?
Marois, chief of operations for Canada’s battle group, has impressed on families the vital part played by every combat soldier in every pocket of Kandahar Province where the Maple Leaf has ventured, including swaths of hellish terrain that have slid back into insurgency control; districts Canadian infantry companies fought for hard, scattering the enemy, but were forced to relinquish because there were never enough boots on the ground to hold them.
A journalist in the room Thursday stated baldly: “Canadians ran away from Zangabad in 2008 with their tail between their legs.’’
The flash of anger in Marois’ eyes is scalding.
“When we had very little, that’s where the real bravery was seen.’’
When we were here in Kandahar, largely alone, with the Dutch in Uruzgan, the ravaged British in Helmand, and the Americans — just 12,000 of them six years ago — off chasing Al Qaeda in the east, with only Canadians to contain the insurgency in what was the cradle of the Taliban.
It is fair to ask of the Canadian generals who sent their troops into Zhari and Arghandab and Maywand whether they knew, in their bones, that these were futile offensives, with an indefensibly high cost in blood and treasure. Everywhere Canadians went, their gains were overturned, until Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance came along in 2008 and switched the mission to one of classic counter-insurgency. That was a seminal point in Canada’s Afghan adventure, troops no longer running around as if without strategic purpose, swatting at insurgents, yet too sparsely arrayed to nail down the battle space.
“It was a bit of a chess game,’’ says Marois, of those middle years in Canada’s deployment before the strategy was altered, with “model villages’’ designated for committed protection and vigilance, creating secure bubbles of civilian life.
The simultaneous ceding of territory to the Taliban didn’t hurt the larger purpose, as long as insurgents could be kept out of Kandahar City and other crucial governance hubs, holding the line until Americans began pouring in, the United States belatedly rediscovering Afghanistan.
“We don’t have to be everywhere,’’ explains Marois, of operational tactics that have largely pacified the Panjwaii District, along with neighbouring Dand — an oasis of calm and intelligent governance in the endlessly roiling south.
“We’re not fighting a war of attrition. We need to fight a war of maneuverism.’’
With one foot out the door — Canadian troops heading home in batches every other night — this is what they’ve accomplished. And it’s what they’re handing over to the Americans, whose Afghan deployment, post-surge, climbed to 99,000 — though 33,000 are to be withdrawn in the next year, as President Barack Obama announced this week in his worrisome version of “Mission Accomplished.”
Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner — Canada’s last commander of Task Force Kandahar — in a recent briefing for reporters added the startling assertion that there are no more than 30 insurgents left actively harassing Panjwaii, scuttling about ones and twos, planting IEDs and antagonizing the locals.
“If they go in big groups, we find them. We are killing Taliban almost daily in the battle space.
“The insurgents are survivors, we’ve learned that. But we’ve diminished their numbers and capabilities. They’re still out there but in numbers too small to have an impact on anything. They’re low on supplies, low on capabilities, low on leadership.’’
Hunched over a detailed map, Milner jabs his finger at Dand. “The Dand district is a complete success story, with 31 schools open now, for both boys and girls. There haven’t been any insurgent activities there in months. We’ve opened up 31 schools, including co-ed schools. We’ve built 52 kilometres of roads, one that goes right down the centre. Dand is also poppy-free. They’re growing saffron and wheat and pomegranate because local farmers don’t want to grow poppies. You can’t eat poppies.
“And I think we can open up every school in Panjwaii in the next year.’’
The “counter-insurgency ratio,” so critical to asserting authority over a region, has been extensively plumped by the arrival of U.S. troops — and the deployment of four Afghan National Army kandaks — with a battalion out of Alaska under Milner’s command.
When he got here last September, Milner’s primary goal was to “flatten’’ the next fighting season, which traditionally launches in spring after the poppy harvest. To do that required high-tempo operations through the winter months — finding and clearing numerous weapons caches that had been pre-placed for the Talibans’ return.
Then he set about extending practices that worked in Dand. “What I’ve tried to do is cross-pollinate the great things that were happening (in Dand) into eastern Panjwaii, shift that governance and development into that area and eventually open up schools.’’
A Canadian company discovered and dislodged an insurgent command-and-control node operating out of a school. “This was where the insurgents had their shadow court.’’
Milner continues: “I was given the task of moving forces in December out into the Horn of Panjwaii. Canadians have operated in the Horn but we never had enough troops to dominate it.’’
That westward push continues, now being assumed by U.S. forces, with joint operations in this transitional phase.
The fighting season, in 2011, has not materialized.
“I’m confident we’ve done everything in our power to set up the Americans for success,’’ says Milner.
If, that is, Obama’s politically inspired draw-down hasn’t set them up for failure, just as Afghanistan was teetering on the tipping point of salvation.
Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.