Sunday, November 2, 2008

Canadian Forces in action

The Washington Post has an interesting, close-up view of a Canadian Forces operation in Zhari district, just West of Kandahar city. This district, along with Panjwai next to it, is the primary area of operations for the Canadians, and has been since summer 2006 when they abandoned Arghandab district to the north.

Note, near the end, that the Canadian troops control only a third of each of those two districts. These two districts - out of 16 in the province - are the focus of Canadian efforts on account of them being the most densely populated in the province, after Kandahar city.

Canadian Troops in Afghanistan Measure Success Inch by Inch

By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Foreign Service

ZHARI, Afghanistan, Nov 2 - The company of Canadian soldiers set off from the small base in southern Afghanistan a few hours before dawn. Combat boots crunching along the wide plains of the Kandahar desert, they moved slowly in a long line into the moonless black ahead...

The soldiers' target, a Taliban bomb-supply compound, was only a little more than two miles away. But it took the contingent of 200-plus troops about three hours to march from the cemetery to the insurgent stronghold. That is the way the war is being fought in southern Afghanistan: inch by inch...

"The bottom line in Zhari and Panjwai is that we own about a third of those districts. The other two-thirds aren't owned by the Taliban, but I call them contested," Thompson said. "If you're out there, you're going to get into a scrap. There are firefights, and there's combat every day in Zhari and Panjwai." ...

The first shot rang out a little before first light as dozens of Canadian soldiers crept to the edge of a wide irrigation ditch. Someone shot a wild dog that was attacking a group of soldiers approaching the main compound. Two helicopters swooped overhead. A contingent of Canadian tanks rumbled loudly over the fields in the distance. An Afghan interpreter shouted into a megaphone that anyone in the compound should come out unarmed. The show of force was met with silence.

The only sign of insurgents was the frantic chatter that crackled over a radio monitored by an Afghan interpreter with the Canadian troops. As the Canadians pushed deeper into the web of Taliban compounds surrounding their objective, a panicked voice commanded someone to move the bombs out of the compound. The radio went dead for a few minutes. Then came the crack, crack, crack of automatic gunfire. A rocket-propelled grenade landed a few hundred feet from a line of Canadian soldiers returning fire into the leafy thicket of grape fields.

The firefight was over in minutes. The Taliban fighters faded into the countryside as the Canadians poured into the compound, which was packed with dozens of huge mortar shells, ammunition shells and what appeared to be ingredients for homemade bombs. After a careful sweep of the area, Canadian military engineers set charges around the bomb storage site and the compound was blown up. (link)

No comments: