Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Lost Battles In Afghanistan - The Forgotten War

In my last post on the Taleban offensive in Afghanistan, I supposed Canadian Forces were likely in the thick of it.

They are.

On Wednesday, three Canadian soldiers died on the road near Masum Gar, Afghanistan.

Written by Stephanie Levitz, Canadian Press @

"The blast killed all three soldiers in the vehicle while they were carrying out a resupply operation near a forward-operating base at Sperwan Ghar, the military said."

And later in the same story...

"The latest deaths came on the day of the military funeral for 25-year-old Trooper Darryl Caswell in Bowmanville, Ontario. He was also killed by a roadside bomb on June 11, when the Canadian military in Afghanistan came across a large number of improvised explosive devices."

The national media is
presently reticent to offer an over-view, from scant reports, about what's going on in this forgotten war. I am not as reticent as they, but I understand their point. Writing war is full of land mines; what you think is going on, is probably wrong. If your facts are straight, the story may not be temporal.

Luckily, I am not beholden to anyone at this blog, only the attentions of you readers. So, here are a collection of my 'temporal slices' from this forgotten war.

The new British ambassador to Afghanistan, in his first statement in his present capacity expressed either the level of his ignorance, or the height of his arrogance...

(quoted from an article in The Independent, June 20, 2007, by James Tapsfield, my emphasis)

Ambassador, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles:

"The great(?!) thing about the Taliban is that they haven't been reading their Chairman Mao. They don't have popular support."

The Taleban are not disciples of the idea of populism like the communist movement
(which champion the majority, peasants or workers), that the ambassador refers to.

Taleban don't care if they have popular support; in 'imperially occupied territories', they create a tension of insecurity, going as far as butchering citizens they deem un-Islamic. On this Podcast from The Guardian Unlimited "..Declan Walsh reports on how locals are resisting this Talibanisation. Also, see an informative audio slide show, historical backgrounder, from the Guardian Unlimited.

The Taleban exude purposefulness and discipline; and they demand popular obedience, not support. They are the products of a sect of fundamentalist Islam's, 'madrassa', schooling. They are the elite of a education system that teaches extreme intolerance and armed insurrection towards an Islamic state. They insist on an extreme standard of public decorum in the areas they dominate. Disobedience is rewarded with brutal public sanction, including death.

The population is suffering under the Tabeban's Islamic law, murder-squads, and a NATO war machine that is unbelievably powerful, destructive, and indiscriminate. The Taleban draw their enemy to fight in populated areas because towns are the fulcrum of government power; and it is to their strategic advantage. Regularly, a village will become a free fire zone, a rule of engagement I've heard interpreted as, 'shoot anything that moves' orders. And they do.

Published in the New York Times Barry Bearak and Taimoor Shah wrote,

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 18, 2007

Afghan officials said late Monday that more than 50 civilians may have died during fierce fighting over the past three days between NATO forces and the Taliban in the Chora district of the southern province of Uruzgan.
Lost that battle.

That's Canada's bailiwick. No reports yet as to which NATO force was involved.

Maj. Dave Quick, commanding officer of India Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, told Stephanie Levitz,
"..Wednesday's (June 20, 2007) battle was longest firefight his company has been in even though it was their 12th combat mission in the last month."

On Thursday Canadian troops were involved in another action in Helmand province.

By Peter Walker of The Guardian
"The air strike - which happened late yesterday (June 21, 2007) - was launched in response to an attack on police posts near the town of Gereshk by militants. It killed 25 civilians including nine women, three babies and the mullah of a local mosque."

Lost that battle.

Later in the same story Peter Walker writes.

According to the Associated Press news agency, the latest deaths - if confirmed - will bring the number of civilians killed in NATO or US-led military operations this year to 177. Among these were seven children who died in a US air strike on Sunday.

A total of 169 civilians have been killed in militant attacks this year, including a recent series of suicide bombings.

So between us and them are 346 civilian dead.

"The latest NATO deaths bring to 606 the number of foreign troops killed in action in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taleban in 2001."(from © Reuters 2007)

Sixty Canadians serving in the Canadian Forces and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan so far.

I hope this over-view gives Canadians an idea of the intensity of action our soldiers are facing right now.

Map courtesy of University of Texas, Perry-CastaƱeda Library Map Collection

Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR) press release: "Protecting Afghan civilians: Statement on the conduct of military operations."


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