Wednesday, March 07, 2007

So much excitement. So little toilet paper.

It seems some of the more virulent blogistan war-bangers are getting all short of breath over this article, with at least one of the Blogging Tories claiming that it's "nice to see Canada doing some of the heavy lifting for a change."

Jesusfuckingchrist!!! It's all heavy lifting. It's always been heavy lifting! What the hell was putting a battalion group on the front line during Operation Mountain Thrust? An infantry association cookout? But it's not heavy lifting until there are main battle tanks in the picture? Is that it? There has to be big things that make a big bang?
Canuck tanks roll
Leopards playing key role in Operation Achilles
That's the headline and, if that's all you read, well...

I don't see how this produces evidence that Canadian Forces in Afghanistan weren't doing the "heavy lifting" prior to the execution of Operation Achilles. During Operation Mountain Thrust, Canada employed a significantly larger force and the tactical commander of the entire operation, was a Canadian brigadier general.

There is also the fact that Canada has incurred a disproportionately high number of combat casualties when compared to other allies. If that's not an indication of "heavy lifting", what is? Is the casualty count not high enough?

Further down the Edmonton Sun article, however, there is information which seems to have been ignored. (Emphasis mine)
A force of more than 200 soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment battle group is supporting the offensive by setting up a blocking position in the Maywand district just inside the northwestern border of Kandahar province.
The key words are "blocking position". And then there's this:
The Gagetown, N.B.-based soldiers are tasked with preventing Taliban militants from retreating through the region, said Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant, the senior Canadian commander.

They are also to disrupt bands of local insurgents, including drug lords who control the opium trade.

Grant said he doesn't expect the same type of bloody pitched battles between Canadians and Taliban fighters that occurred last year in the Panjwaii and Zhari districts west of Kandahar city.

"I don't expect to see and I hope not to see any fighting by Canadians in the Maywand district," said Grant, who noted the battle group includes a force of 46-tonne Leopard 2 tanks.

"If things go well then we won't have to fire a shot in anger. If the Taliban choose to stand and take us on, then they will learn how robust the Canadian force is."

Right. Because what Grant is describing is what is known as a mobile defence, something which is usually carried off by the tactical reserve on the battlefield. He describes it in a little more detail here:

"We will provide a very robust force that will essentially sit on top of the Taliban lines of communication, in an area of western Kandahar province that has traditionally been a thoroughfare for the Taliban," Brig.-Gen. Grant said. "They have moved their troops and their casualties and their logistics supplies through this area, sometimes at will. So we are going in there to disrupt them, which will allow the other coalition forces in Helmand province to prosecute their operation more freely."
Again, it is a description of a tactical reserve and a mobile defence. I would have expected the war-bloggers to have known that. It's very curious.

I don't want to minimize the danger, because it doesn't matter where a force appears in the battle-space, it is always dangerous. And even a mobile defence can get ugly if the opposition correctly predicts the ambush points, but the insinuation that the presence of Canadian tanks is an elevation of force committed to the front of the operation is completely erroneous.

The Leopards are a force multiplier for the Canadian unit which is operating in reserve. They are not being committed with other NATO forward units.

It's a team effort. Everyone is doing the heavy lifting.

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