Another book about the Canadians in Afghanistan has just come to my attention – Mon Afghanistan by LCol Steve Jourdain
(http://bit.ly/1o4zrlt). I am pleased to hear that Jourdain has brought out this memoir because the mission in Afghanistan – the first full-out combat experience for the Canadian Armed Forces since 1953 – has now faded away in the public eye, except for the ongoing issues about PTSD and veterans’ benefits. Certainly a number of military historians will be working at publishing some definitive works that analyze what happened over there, but we have hit the doldrums between the past, when newspapers posted reports daily from excited journalists, and the future when new memoirs or histories are published to help refresh the memory of the effort Canadians made. The news has now moved on with concerns about conflicts in the Ukraine and in Gaza, and Al Qaeda in Iraq.
At the same time, Canadian soldiers who went to Afghanistan will not easily forget what they experienced. Even those who do not suffer from PTSD will always recall their tours of duty when their military skills were put to the test in violent engagements with armed opponents. To make sure that Afghanistan does not fade away completely, I decided a short time ago to begin writing a book to help Canadians understand what their soldiers went through between 2006 and 2011. So I started interviewing soldiers about their experiences. I was not looking for soldiers who had done some outstanding deed (although some did) nor were they carefully selected based on some grand criteria; all they had to do was have a willingness to talk about what they had done over there. They had all gone willingly and had taken pride in having done their duty.
The book will not be a military history or a detailed analysis of the campaign, but will simply try to provide a record of what a few soldiers who served outside the wire went through. Each chapter will focus on one particular soldier from a different specialty – a chapter each for an infantryman, a combat engineer, a PSYOPS operator, a soldier from an armoured squadron, a mentor from an OMLT, etc. Overall, I hope that this collection will give a spectrum of experiences that will be of interest to the general public.
I now have written or am drafting the accounts telling the stories of:
· Corporal Sean Chard, crew commander of a Coyote armoured reconnaissance vehicle in “D” Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, operating in Shah Wali Kot
· Corporal Francois Dupère, a PSYOPS operator whose team operating throughout Kandahar province
· “Sam,” an Explosives Ordnance Disposal team leader operating out of FOB Ma’sum Ghar
· Master Warrant Office Richard Stacey, squadron sergeant major of “C” Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse
· Captain Jay Mineault, leader of an Engineer Construction Team based in FOB Ma’sum Ghar
· Captain Robert Peel, leader of an OMLT team in Task Force Zharey
· Captain Simon Mailloux, platoon commander in the 3 R22eR whose company was based in Panjwayi district.
The tentative title of the book is Combat Mission: the Canadian Experience in Afghanistan
T. Robert Fowler, author, Canadian military history