>From Saturday's Globe and Mail
August 25, 2007 at 1:03 AM EDT
Canadian soldiers are getting killed in Afghanistan at more than three
times the rate of troops from other nations, including those from
Britain and the United States also in the thick of the fighting
against the resurgent Taliban.
The heavy losses - another three soldiers and an Afghan interpreter
were killed in two blasts in the past week - come mostly from massive
roadside blasts, which now pose the gravest threat to the Canadian
mission in strife-torn Kandahar province.
"We have suffered no casualties - wounded or killed - in firefights,"
said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Walker, commander of the Canadian battle
group just finishing its six-month tour. "The KIAs [killed in action]
we have suffered were almost all from IEDs."
The threat from improvised explosive devices is heightened by the fact
that Canadian troops have yet to receive the latest anti-IED
technology and lack helicopters to avoid the perils of land transport.
Top Canadian commanders have said that the Taliban's reliance on IEDs
and suicide bombers is evidence of their weakness and inability to
take on Canadian troops in combat.
"After failing to achieve any success ... in conventional warfare, the
insurgents have resorted to IED and other terrorist tactics," Lt.-Col.
Jamie Robertson, deputy director of public affairs operations, said in
But the Taliban shift has proved effective. They have killed just as
many Canadians in the past six months as died in more conventional
combat last fall during the battles in the Panjwai region.
Like other successful insurgencies in Afghanistan's long and bloody
history of driving invaders and occupiers out, the Taliban don't need
to defeat foreign troops in firefights. They only need to kill enough
Canadians to bleed away public support and sap the political will in
To defend against the threat of IEDs, the military has purchased a new
multivehicle system designed to safely detect, uncover and remove
roadside bombs, but it won't arrive in Kandahar until later this year.
Other contingents - especially the United States - have already
deployed these specialized vehicles both in Iraq and Afghanistan,
although it is hard to prove that the much lower U.S. casualty rates
are a result of better road clearing.
"Buried IEDs have become the weapon of choice against CF forces in
Afghanistan," said General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff,
when he announced the order for the specialized anti-IED vehicles in
May. More than a dozen Canadians had already been killed in IED
attacks by then.
Canada already has mine-detection and limited route-clearing
capacities in Afghanistan.
But the big bulldozer blades and heavy rollers attached to tank
chassis and the limited electronic jamming systems mounted inside
lightly armoured jeeps are both inadequate to deal with increasingly
sophisticated IEDs, some of which can now be trigged by cellphones or
TV remote controls.
And other factors - all hard to measure - contribute to the bloody
successes the Taliban has achieved using IEDs. Canada is the only
major fighting force in Afghanistan with no helicopters.
Other countries make heavy use of them to transport troops and
supplies to and from forward operating bases. Canada must instead rely
on regular ground convoys travelling predictable routes. Although
efforts are made to vary timings, the regular flow of Canadian
military vehicles on some roads makes them easy targets.
Canadian troops also suffer high casualties because Canada opted to
take responsibility for one of the toughest patches in Afghanistan.
Kandahar province is the heartland of the Taliban. But Britain, the
Netherlands and the United States are also heavily engaged in Taliban-
A Globe and Mail examination of those killed in action during the 18
months up to July 31 (roughly since NATO contingents including Canada
moved in strength into southern Iraq) shows Canadians soldiers were
being killed at three times the rate of the British in neighbouring
Helmand province and more than four times the rate of U.S. soldiers
who are deployed mostly in eastern and southern Afghanistan.
The comparison excludes non-hostile deaths (such aircraft and vehicle
accidents and suicides) but includes firefights, friendly fire, IEDs,
suicide attacks - in sum, all hostile acts of insurgency and
Although the overall number of those killed in action is relatively
small - 224 NATO and U.S. soldiers died between Feb. 1, 2006, and July
31, 2007 - there are striking differences in the burdens borne by
More than half of those killed in action were American, a rate that
roughly matches the proportion of the U.S. contribution - 55 per cent
- to the 41,000 combined NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Britain, with 6,500 troops in Afghanistan, or about 16 per cent of the
total foreign forces, has had 52 soldiers killed in action. That's
about 19 per cent of the total hostile deaths, reflecting the tough
and contested area of operations assigned to the British.
Canada's killed-in-action rate is three times as high as the British
rate and four times the American level. Although direct comparisons
are flawed because of different operating areas and the numbers of
soldiers actually out in the field as opposed to on large bases, the
loss of 52 Canadians killed in action is significantly worse than the
loss rates of other countries.
Some large contingents, notably Germany, Spain and Italy - all of
which have sent troops to Afghanistan but keep them far from the
fighting in the relatively quiet north of the country - have suffered
very few casualties.
For Canada's battle group, IEDs remain a scourge.
Lt.-Col. Walker said Canadian vehicles were targeted by about 150 IED
blasts in the past six months. Many missed or failed to cause
significant casualties. But others reaped a grim toll.
About another 150 were discovered - usually reported by Afghans - and
removed before they could be triggered.
"For reasons of operational security we will not provide information
on the specific actions we are taking to deal with the IED threat,"
Lt.-Col. Robertson said, adding: "The Canadian Forces has an
integrated range of capabilities to detect, avoid and destroy mines
and IEDs in order to mitigate the risk faced by our soldiers.''
But without better IED-detection capabilities and only a limited
surveillance capacity, the Canadian troops can't detect many IEDs and
are less able than some contingents - notably the Americans who patrol
routes with unmanned aerial aircraft- to spot them being planted.
After a string of killer IEDs, Canadian soldiers crammed into armoured
vehicles, or driving vulnerable supply convoys, know they are
vulnerable every time they go down a road.
"There is no 100-per-cent effective way to defend against the
indiscriminant use of IEDs," Lt.-Col. Robertson acknowledged.
Shifting routes where possible and targeting IED-making cells helps,
but the arrival of specialized anti-IED equipment may give Canada's
soldiers in Afghanistan the best chance of defeating the Taliban's
most effective means of killing them.
Winning hearts and minds is also helping. "Local Afghans have
increasingly approached ISAF [International Security Assistance Force]
forces, and specifically Canadian soldiers, to identify suspicious
activities in their areas and/or the location of suspected IEDs," Lt.-
Col. Robertson said.
"This is obviously key in helping mitigate the insidious IED threat."
Bombing Germany during WW II was evidence of the Allies weakness and
inability to take on German troops in combat.
Face it you stupid fuckmuffins, the Afghan Resistance has EVERY RIGHT
to use IEDs against an occupying foreign military.
That's because our government (Lib, Con or NDP) will not give our soldiers
nukes, Apaches, F22 and wide them out swiftly and quickly. Or...
All when 8 pounds of enriched uranium would solve the issue.
<robert...@aol.com> wrote in message