Saturday, April 22, 2006

Canadian Army Reservists in Afghanistan

Four Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan today, bring the Canadian military death toll to 15 since operations began there. Two of the soldiers who died today were reservists, who volunteered and were called up for this rotation. Having being a member of the Land Reserve for 28 years, retiring in 2001 as a Lieutenant-Colonel, I can say that I am truly proud of these citizen soldiers. They died doing something they believed in enough to put their own lives on hold and ended up paying the ultimate price.

Due to Canada's good fortune of history and geography, there has not been a war fought on Canadian soil for well over a hundred years. The same cannot be said of Afghanistan where tribes have fought each other for thousands of years, then banded together to first get rid of the British, then the Russians, and now the coalition forces. Dieing fighting for your tribe, your country, your warlord, or your beliefs is a way of life in Afghanistan. Not so in Canada. With reservists making up significant portions of each rotation that goes to Afghanistan it will interesting to see how long Canadian support and political will will last before we develop an exit strategy that will get us out, allow us to save some face on the international stage, but leave the problems behind because it will take generations to "fix" Afghanistan.

I believe in what we are trying to do there - I'm just not sure that Canada will ultimately have the will or patience to spend the necessary time and resources to get the job done. So far, no other nation has been able to stay in country long enough to finish what they have started. Will Canada be any different?