Author's Military Service in Afghanistan, Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 18 Jan-30 July 2004
Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Camp Warehouse, Kabul, Afghanistan
Major (Retired) Harold A. Skaarup, 18 Jan to 30 July 2004.
Map of Afghanistan in 2004.
More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the Afghanistan theatre of operations between 2001 and 2014. It was my privilege to have been one of them.
I was serving with North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) HQ, at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1999 to 2003, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon took place.
On that day, four passenger airliners were hijacked in the skies over the eastern United States; two were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan, New York, a third struck the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, resulting in the death of 2,977 people. On duty inside the mountain for a NORAD exercise, we watched the second aircraft crash into the tower, then heard our colleagues on line at that time with us in the Pentagon telling us they had to evacuate because of the crash on the building they were working in. It was an interesting time to be part of NORAD, to say the least.
The direct result of these attacks came shortly after my posting back to Canada. I was serving with Land Forces Atlantic Area (LFAA) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as the Area Intelligence Officer, when I given orders to deploy overseas. I was tasked to serve as the Deputy Intelligence and Chief Assessments Officer with the Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB), in Kabul, Afghanistan, from Jan to Aug 2004. This outline describes some of the experiences I had with incredible colleagues during my deployment, based at Camp Warehouse on the Eastern side of Kabul.
KMNB and ISAF shoulder patches worn in Kabul.
How it began - journal notes:
11 Sep 01 Tuesday. I was working on a NORAD exercise on shift work, 0600 hrs inside Cheyenne Mountain. Went into the mountain to the operations centre for a briefing at 0700. Shortly afterwards, terrorists crashed an airliner into the World Trade Centre in New York. We all looked up at a pair of giant screens in the operations centre that were displaying CNN, and about 18 minutes later watched the second airliner hit the second tower.
A third airliner hit the Pentagon. We were in contact with Major Terry Doly-Harper who was participating in our Exercise Vigilant Guardian (VG 01-2) on the far side of the building when the aircraft hit. They weren't aware the plane had hit until the fire alarm forced them to evacuate the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked airliner crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Both Trade Towers collapsed, followed by the collapse of a nearby 47-story building beside it. A battle in Afghanistan was underway. All non-essential (exercise) personnel were evacuated either deeper inside the mountain, or off it entirely, and directed to wait for orders. There was a miles-long traffic jam at Fort Carson just below our mountain work station, as all US troops were recalled. All of us stood by, watching in shifts, watching the news, pondering the consequences and did more shift work.
The following is an article I wrote for our Intelligence Branch history.
11 September 2001, the View from NORAD
The Canadian Intelligence Branch personnel serving with NORAD in the fall of 2001 were engaged in the largest exercise of the year centered on the NORAD Command elements in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs. Maj Harold Skaarup, Lt (N) Debra Mayfield and WO Mark Kelly were on duty in the main operations centre, just preparing for a morning briefing with the Commander when one of the duty officers said, “look at that,” as he pointed to one of the two wide screen televisions up front. CNN was broadcasting the smoke drifting away from the first of the two strikes on the World Trade Center towers.
The world as we knew it in North American changed dramatically on Tuesday, 11 September 2001. The events of this day have come to be known as the 911 terrorist attacks. Between 7:45 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. EDT on that date, four airplanes were hijacked from east coast airports in the USA. At 8:46 a.m. EDT, the first hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it on fire. At 9:03 a.m. EDT, a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Centre and exploded. At 9:40 a.m., the FAA halted all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide had been halted. At 9:43 a.m. EDT, a third airplane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation began immediately, followed at 9:45 a.m. with the evacuation of the White House.
At 10:05 a.m. EDT, the south tower of the World Trade Centre collapsed, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris formed and slowly drifted away from the building. At 10:10 a.m. EDT, a fourth hijacked airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. At 10:24 a.m., the FAA reported that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States were being diverted to Canada. At 10:28 a.m. EDT, the World Trade Centre’s north tower collapsed from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.
At 11:18 a.m., American Airlines reported it had lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard. Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. At 11:26 a.m., United Airlines reported that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, had crashed in Pennsylvania. American officials said the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania could have been headed for one of three possible targets: Camp David, the White House or the US Capitol building.
At 11:59 a.m., United Airlines confirmed that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, had crashed with 56 passengers and 9 crewmembers aboard. It hit the World Trade Centre‘s south tower. At 5:20 p.m. EDT, the 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Centre complex collapsed. The evacuated building was damaged when the twin towers across the street collapsed earlier in the day. Other nearby buildings in the area remained ablaze.
Within hours, US officials reported Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998, was involved in these attacks. Bin Laden’s home base was known to be in Afghanistan at that time and in due course, Canadians would be on the ground participating in the hunt for him. In January 2004, I found myself on a six-month tour in Kabul, Afghanistan with the Kabul Multi-national Brigade (KMNB) as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – a direct “personal” result of 911.
 In the spring of 2001, the NORAD Exercise Intelligence Staff had been directed to draft a training exercise designed to force the evacuation of the Pentagon and its staff to an alternate headquarters. We compiled a scenario based on a commercial aircraft being hijacked after departing another country, en route to the USA, with hijackers who were scripted as dying of Aids and demanding to speak with officials at the UN in New York to have their grievances redressed. En route, the aircraft was to dive into the Pentagon. The senior NORAD operators turned down the draft scenario because they felt it was “too unlikely,” claiming the aircraft would be destroyed before it was allowed to strike the Pentagon or any built-up area. The exercise team therefore developed an alternative scenario in which a subway train stopped in the tunnel at the underground mall station beneath the Pentagon where a terrorist bomb was scripted to be detonated, instead. When the “911” terrorist attacks took place, many of us had an uneasy sense of déja-vu.
What it meant for us
First, a bit of background on where we were. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was a NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan, established by the United Nations (UN) Security Council in December 2001 by Resolution 1386, as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement. Its main purpose was to train the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and assist Afghanistan in rebuilding key government institutions, but was also engaged in the War in Afghanistan (2001 - present) against the Taliban insurgency.
(Robert D. War Photo, US DoD, 2004)
ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and the surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan, and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country. From 2006 to 2011, ISAF became increasingly involved in more intensive combat operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Troop contributors included the USA, the UK, Canada, and other NATO member states as well as a number of other countries. The intensity of the combat faced by contributing nations varied greatly, with the United States sustaining the most casualties overall. In early 2010, there were at least 700 military bases inside Afghanistan. About 400 of these were used by American-led NATO forces and 300 by the ANSF.
ISAF ceased combat operations and was disbanded in December 2014, with some troops remaining behind in an advisory role as part of ISAF's successor organization, the Resolute Support Mission.
For almost two years, the ISAF mandate did not go beyond the boundaries of Kabul. According to General Norbert Van Heyst, such a deployment would have required at least ten thousand additional soldiers. The responsibility for security throughout the whole of Afghanistan was to be given to the newly reconstituted Afghan National Army. However, on 13 October 2003, the Security Council voted unanimously to expand the ISAF mission beyond Kabul with Resolution 1510. Shortly thereafter, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said that Canadian soldiers (nearly half of the entire force at that time) would not deploy outside Kabul.
After the 2005 Afghan parliamentary election, the Canadian base Camp Julien in Kabul closed, and the remaining Canadian assets were moved to Kandahar as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in preparation for a significant deployment in January, 2006. On 31 July 2006, NATO-led ISAF assumed command of the south of the country, ISAF Stage 3, and by 5 October, also of the east of Afghanistan, ISAF Stage 4.
ISAF was mandated by a number of UN Security Council Resolutions, the last of which extended the mandate of ISAF to 23 March 2011.
Flags in front of the KMNB JQ building in Camp Warehouse, looking north, over the Jalalabad road, which runs West to Kabul and East to Surobi and eventually Pakistan. It is a high-traffic Main Supply Route (MSR).
The mandates given by the different governments to their forces varied from country to country (in 2004 there were more than 40 nations participating in the operations with elements at Camp Warehouse). Some governments wished to fully take part in counter-insurgency operations; some came to Afghanistan for NATO alliance reasons; some were in the country partially because they wished to maintain their relationship with the United States, and some were there for domestic political reasons. This meant that ISAF suffered from a lack of united aims.
On 11 August 2003, NATO took command of ISAF, which consisted of 5,000 troops from more than 30 countries. About 90 percent of the force was contributed by NATO nations. By far the largest single contingent, 1,950 were Canadian. About 2,000 German troops were involved, and Romania had about 400 troops engaged at the time.
The first ISAF rotation under the command of NATO was led by GE Lieutenant General Goetz Gliemeroth, with Canadian Army Major General Andrew Leslie as his deputy. Canada originally had been slated to take over command of ISAF on 11 August 2003.
On 13 October 2003, Resolution 1510 was passed by the UN, opening the way to a wider role for ISAF to support the government of Afghanistan beyond Kabul. In December, 2003, the North Atlantic Council authorized the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), General James Jones, to initiate the expansion of ISAF by taking over command of the German-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kunduz, North of Kabul near the Tajikistan border
The other eight PRTs operating in Afghanistan in 2003 remained under the command of Operation Enduring Freedom, the continuing US-led military operation in Afghanistan. On 31 December 2003, the military component of the Kunduz PRT was placed under ISAF command as a pilot project and first step in the expansion of the mission. Six months later, on 28 June 2004, at the Summit meeting of the NATO Heads of State and Government in Istanbul, Turkey, NATO announced that it would establish four other PRTs in the north of the country: in Mazar-i-Sharif, Meymana, Feyzabad and Baghlan.
After the completion of Stage 1, the ISAF's area of operations then covered about 3,600 square kilometers in the north, and the mission was able to influence security in nine Northern provinces of the country. As late as November 2003, the entire ISAF force had only three helicopters. On 9 February 2004, Canada's Lieutenant General Rick Hillier took command, with Major General Werner Korte of Germany as his deputy. During this time-frame, Canada was the largest contributor to the ISAF force, providing 2,000 troops.
Turk Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter, ISAF, Kabul.
In May, 2004, Turkey sent three helicopters and 56 flight and maintenance personnel to work in ISAF.
In July, 2004, Portugal sent 24 soldiers and one C-130 Hercules cargo plane to assist ISAF. On 7 August 2004, General Hean-Louis Py, commander of Eurocorps, took command of ISAF. Eurocorps contributors deploying to Afghanistan included France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg. Canada reduced its forces to about 800 personnel.
In September, 2004, a Spanish battalion of about 800 personnel arrived to provide the ISAF Quick Reaction Force (QRF), and an Italian Army battalion of up to 1,000 troops arrived to provide the in-theatre Operational Reserve Force (ORF). With a force of 100, Georgia became the first Commonwealth of Independent States country to send an operational force to Afghanistan.
Stage 1 (North) was completed in October, 2004, under the Regional Command of Germany.
Dutch ground and air forces totaled almost 2,000 personnel during 2006, taking part in combat operations alongside British and Canadian forces in the south.
Canadian Forces (CF) were actively engaged in fighting the Taliban in the south and suffered a high proportion of the allied casualties. CF troops had been engaged in combat from the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001. In 2006, with the situation in Kandahar Province turned increasingly violent, the CF participated in an increasing number of significant operations and battles.
The number of Canadian Forces' fatalities resulting from Canadian military activities in Afghanistan was the largest for any single Canadian military mission since the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. A total of 159 Canadian Forces members and 1 Canadian civilian died in the war between 2002 and 2014.
On 28 November 2014, Veterans Affairs Canada attributed Corporal Jacques Larocque's (8 AMS Trenton) death (27 August 2005) to the Afghanistan mission. On 21 September 2015, the city of Quinte West confirmed they were to add another name to the monument, Cpl Jacques Larocque's name was added on 16 October 2015 as the 159th Canadian soldier who died in active service on the Afghan mission.
Figures released by DND in June 2013 show that the total number of Canadian soldiers injured and wounded in more than ten years of war reached 2,071 by the end of December 2012. Of these, 132 were due to enemy actions, including 97 due to IEDs or landmines, 22 due to rocket propelled grenade (RPG), small arms or mortar fire, and 13 due to suicide bomb attacks. Another six Canadian soldiers died due to friendly fire from their American allies while conducting combat training operations. An additional 19 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan as a result of accidents or non-combat circumstances; 6 in vehicle accidents, 3 unspecified non-combat-related deaths, 3 suicide deaths, 2 in a helicopter crash, 2 from accidental falls, 2 from accidental gunshots and 1 death from an illness. 635 soldiers had been wounded in action and 1,412 received non-battle injuries since April 2002, up to their withdrawal in December 2011.
In 2011, all Canadian combat forces had withdrawn from Kandahar and relocated the bulk of their forces in Kabul, with detachments in Regional Command (RC) North and RC West. Canada completed its participation in operations in Afghanistan in March 2014.
On 9 April 2007, Queen Elizabeth II honored all the deceased Canadians in Afghanistan when she rededicated the Vimy Memorial "to their eternal remembrance, to Canada, to all who would serve the cause of freedom, and to those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan."
In honour of all those who died during the Afghan mission, the section of Ontario's Highway 401 along which deceased soldiers are carried from CFB Trenton to Toronto after repatriation is named the "Highway of Heroes". One of the reasons our fallen take this route is to have the remains examined by a coroner to confirm who the identity of each casualty. Often, after a bomb strike, there is little left to examine, and the Coroner is under strict guidelines to be certain the family is putting to rest the correct remains of their lost relative.
CF Sacrifice Medal.
All those Canadian Forces personnel who are killed during the mission are posthumously awarded the Sacrifice Medal and their spouse or next of kin receive the Memorial Cross. The Sacrifice Medal was created to provide a tangible and lasting form of recognition for the sacrifices made by members of the Canadian Armed Forces and those who work with them who have been wounded or killed under honourable circumstances as a direct result of a hostile action or action intended for a hostile force. The medal is also awarded posthumously to any member of the Canadian Armed Forces who served on or after 7 October 2001, and dies under honourable circumstances as a result of an injury or disease related to military service.
The Medal consists of a silver circular medal that is 36 mm across, has a claw at the top of it in the form of the Royal Crown, and is attached to a straight slotted bar. On the obverse of the Medal appears a contemporary effigy of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, facing right, wearing a Canadian diadem composed alternately of maple leaves and snow flakes, and circumscribed with the inscriptions “ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA” and “CANADA”, separated by small maple leaves, and on the reverse of the Medal appears a representation of the statue named “Canada” –that forms part of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial – facing right, overlooking the horizon. The inscription “SACRIFICE” appears in the lower right half of the Medal.
The Memorial Cross is granted by Her Majesty’s Canadian Government as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice in respect of military personnel who lay down their lives for their country.
It is a sterling silver cross, 32 mm across, with arms slightly flared at the ends with a wreath of laurel leaves appearing between the arms of the cross. On the obverse, the Royal Cypher (EIIR) appears in the center of a Greek cross superimposed on the main cross, with the Royal Crown at the end of the upper arm and maple leaves on the three remaining arms. The reverse of the cross is plain. The service number, substantive rank at time of death, initials and surname of the person being commemorated are engraved on two lines in the center. There is also a sterling mark on the lower arm.
The General Campaign Star (GCS) is awarded to members of the Canadian Forces and members of allied forces working with the Canadian Forces who deploy into a defined theatre of operations to take part in operations in the presence of an armed enemy. The GCS is always issued with a ribbon specific to the theatre or type of service being recognized, and each ribbon has its own criteria.
From 24 April 2003 to 12 March 2014, the GCS was awarded to military personnel who served for at least 30 cumulative days with the Canadian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan between 24 April 2003 and 31 July 2009, in the theatre of operations which consisted of the political boundaries and airspace of Afghanistan; and/or in the theatre of operations consisting of the political boundaries of Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and those parts of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea that are west of sixty-eight degrees East longitude and north of five degrees South latitude, as well as the airspace above those areas between 1 August 2009 and 12 March 2014, provided that the service is not counted towards another service medal.
The GCS is a gold-coloured four-pointed star, 44 mm across, representing the cardinal points of a compass bearing on the obverse, built-up in order from the back: a wreath of maple leaves terminating at the top with the Royal Crown, two crossed swords, the blades and hilts forming four additional points to the star, an anchor, and a flying eagle.
The wreath represents honour; the maple leaves represent Canada; the anchor, crossed swords, and eagle represent the three services of the Canadian Forces; and the Crown represents the Queen of Canada and her role as the fount of all honours. On the reverse appear within a raised circle, from top to bottom: the Royal Cypher ensigned by the Royal Crown, a plain space for engraving, and three maple leaves on one stem. The Star is engraved on the reverse with the service number, abbreviated substantive rank, initials, and name of the recipient.
Rotation bars have been created to recognize long periods of service in a theatre. Recipients of the GCS may be awarded a first Rotation Bar after a total of 210 days of eligible service, including the days taken into account for the award of the original medal, and additional bars are awarded for each subsequent period of 180 days. One bar bearing five maple leaves is worn in lieu of five bars bearing one maple leaf.
The RCAF had a major presence in Afghanistan, including three Lockheed CC-130 Hercules cargo planes, two Lockheed CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes, six Boeing CH-147 Chinook transport helicopters, six Mil Mi-17 Hip medium twin-turbine helicopters leased for one year from Skylink Aviation, eight Bell CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters and three CU-170 IAI Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The Canadian Army increased their presence with main battle tanks, some ten Leopard C2 and twenty Leopard 2A6M CAN, approximately one hundred LAV III armoured vehicles and six 155-mm M777 howitzers.
LAV III, Camp Warehouse, spring 2004.
NATO States: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, UK, and USA.
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) nations: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Ukraine.
Non-NATO and non-EAPC nations: Australia, Bahrain, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jordan, Kuwait, Malysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, and United Arab Emirates.
The consequences for our family (Journal notes)
07 Oct 03 Tuesday. Major Mike Beauvais called from Ottawa to tell me it was my turn for Bosnia or Afghanistan, TBD, in Feb or March, more to follow.
21 Nov 03 Friday. My deployment orders came in. I will be going to Afghanistan on Operation Athena to serve as the Deputy G2 Intelligence Assessments Officer in the Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB),. I will be part of the Canadian contingent primarily composed of the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battalion Group, 5e Groupe-brigade mécanisé du Canada (5 GBMC).
Operation Athena was the Canadian Forces contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan. The operation was divided in two phases: the first one took place from July 2003 to July 2005 in the Kabul region, where I was deployed, and the second one from August 2005 to December 2011 in the Kandahar area, where the bulk of Canada's 159 fatalities occurred. The operation's main objective was to improve Afghanistan's security and governance. Operation Athena in Kandahar constituted the longest combat mission in the history of Canadian Forces. More than 40,000 Canadian military personnel took part in operations at some point in the country - often several times. This operation constituted the largest military deployment of the Canadian Forces since the Second World War.
My orders directed me to immediately join 5 GBMC on its pre-deployment winter exercise taking place at Sherbrooke, Quebec.
28 Nov 03 Friday. B-737-200 flight from Halifax to Ottawa, then on to Montreal. PO1 Mike Labossière picked me up at the airport in Dorval. Rain. Van to Sherbrooke, dragging along a barrack box, duffle bag and camp cot. 80 km east to Camp Julien simulation site. Maj Michel Gareau et al in Camp. Visited the Camp Warehouse simulation site on the edge of the city in the evening. Set up the cot in an old garage, no water. 60 pers in the same sleeping space. Lots of old and new faces. Met Capt Melissa Joy Olegario, Lt Fred Jean, WO Chris K. Buczynski and crew.
BGen Jocelyn LaCroix, Commander of the Kabul Multinational Brigade, 2004.
29 Nov 03 Saturday. Meetings all day. Met BGen Jocelyn LaCroix, Col Richard Giguere, LCol Bill Foster, LCol Eric Tremblay, Maj Danny Fortin, CWO Ouellette, BGen (Ret’d) Holmes and LCol (Retired) Dave Pentney (civilian evaluators). Dave and I served together at HQ CFE in Lahr, Germany, in 1982. Snowing and cold.
01 Dec 03 Monday. Exercise Lion Resolute and Brave Lion.
02 Dec 03 Tuesday. Sgt Kurt Sinclair from 6 Int Coy and I drove 3 hours to CFB Valcartier to draw additional kit for Afghanistan. Barrack box, duffle bag, some very nice warm CADPAT kit. Back to Sherbrooke the same day. 1½-feet of snow in Valcartier, less on the way back.
03 Dec 03 Wednesday. Long day. Endex in the evening. Bus to Long Pointe, Montreal, arrived about midnight. Back to Halifax.
15 Dec 03 Monday. Halifax. Sleet, rain, heavy snow for the 13 km Battle Fitness Test (BFT) from the dockyard, over the MacDonald Bridge to Dartmouth, loop around and back across the bridge, all soaked.
19 Dec 03 Friday. Mine training at the Engineer Centre at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick.
22 Dec 03 Monday. Monday. On base to drop off three Barrack Boxes for shipment to Kabul, Afghanistan.
02 Jan 03 Friday. Meanwhile, "over there", Governor General Adrienne Clarkson leaves Kabul after spending a four-day visit with air workers and soldiers at Camp Julien and Camp Warehouse.
05 Jan 04 Monday. Dash-8-100 flight to Ottawa.
06 Jan 04 Tuesday. NDHQ South Tower. Met with Maj Paul Hope, LCol Greg Jensen, LCol Christian Rousseau, LCol Mike Ouellette, LCdr Paul Grimshaw, Afghan Analyst Julie Fernier, CSIS LO Dave Stewart, 5e Brigade crew including LCol Bill Foster, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, Capt Alain Chabot, Maj Phil Nickerson, Maj Mike Beauvais, Maj Steve Desjardins, Lt Fred Jean, PO1 Mike Labossière, and Cdr Simon Hughes (J2 DSI7 Tech Int), et al. Briefings, out to Tunney’s Pasture in the afternoon. Maj George Johnstone, Capt Norm Sproll, LCol Kelly (OC). Tour and briefings, CFS Leitrim, Capt Beaugard et al. Good briefings. On the road to CFB Kingston, 235 km.
Checking the news on what has been happening in Afghanistan, we listen to a report that 14 tons of aid from Canadian donors was distributed by Canadian soldiers to widows and orphans in Kabul. The donations included winter clothing, blankets, toys, chewing gum, school supplies and diapers. Care Canada also distributed to each family enough to help feed seven people for up to a month, through funding from the Canadian International Development Agency.
07 Jan 04 Wednesday. Day one on course, 32 students. Lunch at CFSMI, Capt Paul Chura.
08 Jan 04 Thursday. Lectures on Afghanistan, computer work.
12 Jan 04 Monday. Last needle at the Base Hospital, over to CMTT to ship baggage to Trenton and on to Kabul. All of us preparing to go are paying close attention to what is happening in Afghanistan, where an agreement was signed by ISAF and the Afghan Ministry of Defense to begin the demobilization of heavy weapons from Kabul. We will have our work cut out for us.
13 Jan 04 Tuesday. Class, NBC training and C-7 weapon TOETs.
14 Jan 04 Wednesday. First aid training, pistol training.
15 Jan 04 Thursday. -23°C and cold. Outdoors probing for mines in a large covered “sandlot,” examining booby-trapped houses etc. LCol (Retired) Rhedegydd ap Probert chat. Spoke with Maj Pierre Michaud, Maj Peter Scales and School CWO. Certificates, scroll at the end of the course presented by LCol Peter Heindl, CO PSTC. Ran into LCol Guy Smith. Packed up, -24°C, on the road to Ottawa.
16 Jan 04 Friday. Sunny, -24°C, clear and cold drive to the airport. A-319 Airbus flight from Ottawa to Toronto, met up with the 5e Brigade crew in Toronto, exchanged some dollars for Euros, boarded a B-767-300 for the7 ½ hr flight to Paris.
17 Jan 04 Saturday. Boarded a B-777-200 for the 6-½ hr flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The stewardesses wore scarves that hung from the right side of their tan caps and then wrapped around the neck on our Emirates Airways flight. Entered an airport terminal that looked just like one in Las Vegas. Dark out and a very warm 20°C at 02:30 AM. All on a bus to Camp Mirage, Minbad, where I met LCol Marie Leloup et al. Marie and I had last worked on an exercise at CFB Wainwright in many years ago.
Lockheed CC-130 Hercules flight into Afghanistan.
18 Jan 04 Sunday. Briefings and prep for Hercules flight at 06:20 AM. Clear morning. UAE soldiers wearing tan cam, Hawk fighters taking off on base, noticed another one mounted as a gate guard and at the front entrance to the base. About 30 of us boarded the C-130 Hercules for a 4-½ hr flight over Iran and parts of Pakistan to get to Kabul. About ½ hr before landing all of us donned our flak jackets and helmets, as the aircraft carried out a combat terrain-hugging flight into Kabul.
Bison Maintenance vehicle, call sign 88A, Kabul Airfield, 2003, with a Lockheed CC-130 Hercules in the background.
Arrival in Afghanistan, 18 Jan 2004, BGen Peter Devlin commander of KMNB, welcoming BGen Jocelyn LaCroix and us.
Arrival in Afghanistan, 18 Jan 2004. Sunny, about 10°C at the airport, French and German soldiers on the tarmac with us. All loaded in a convoy of 4X4 civilian vehicles, heading east to Camp Warehouse. Lots of kids, Afghan women dressed in light blue burkas, buildings built of mud, UN and ISAF camps along the route 6 or 7 km East to our new home. We were billeted in an 8-man Weatherhaven tent with a hard floor and a camp cot. Tent No. B5, one of many laid out in a box pattern similar to the ones constructed by Roman Legions 2000 years ago. Excellent food, with Nepalese and Canadian cooks. Met BGen Peter Devlin, outgoing Commander. (Lieutenant-General Peter John Devlin, CMM, MSC, CD Chief of the Army Staff and Commander of the Canadian Army June 2011 to July 2013). We had been on course together when he was a new LCol in Kingston in 1996. Met up with the DG2, Maj Les Leblanc, whom I was replacing. Actually came across many familiar faces. Briefings in the tent theatre, drew my 9mm pistol, Serial No. 8T8562, plus 26 rounds and two magazines. Stayed up until 9:30 PM. Lots of bathroom trips. Clear night sky, first night in Kabul.
Roman camp of Iciniacum near Theilenhofen in Bavaria, Germany.
Aerial view of Camp Warehouse, laid out like a Roman Legion complex of the 2nd century.
Our tent accommodation at Camp Ware house, No. B5, with hesco bastions filled with sand and a light layer of gravel on top. If a rocket came in, you had to keep low. Sitting up could leave your head exposed - real ungood.
19 Jan 04 Monday. Colorado Blue Sky, clear sunrise, frost on the tent, good food, phone calls. First meeting didn’t take place where it was expected. Les guided me to the HQ. Met my new G2 boss, GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt, an armoured recconaissance officer from the German contingent. Briefings, walking tour of Camp Warehouse, home to about 2,000 multi-national troops including 400 Canadians. Romanians, Bulgarians, Irish, Swiss, Danes, Italians, French, Spanish, Germans, Finlanders, Norwegians, Croatians, Nepalese etc. Americans and Brits visiting from their own nearby camps. Meeting with US Counter-Intelligence team. Attended a German rotation/departure presentation ceremony, including one for Les. Evening get-together for all new and outgoing staff in the mess. My three barrack boxes finally arrived, but still no sign of the kit and boxes sent from Kingston last week. Made up my bed with civilian sheets and crashed. In a raid on a compound in Kabul, Canadian soldiers arrested 16 men and seized drugs, cash and weapons.
20 Jan 04 Tuesday. 07:00 walk to HQ, then climbed into two Iltis vehicles and drove in convoy with Les and three others to ISAF HQ. Met US J2 Col Thayden, US J2X LCol Wallace, soon to be replaced by our Int Branch CA LCol Rob Williams, and US Int O LCol Potter, BE Maj Joachim (we had served together with SFOR in Sarajevo) and many others at the J2 brief. Beautiful sunrise before loading up again. CA Sgt Vincennes driving with his hair on fire, hilarious, scary and both at the same time en route to Camp Julien on the west end of Kabul. We came up on a young boy with a cart full of freshly skinned chickens who meandered in front of us, as other pedestrians weaved in and out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic downtown. Yellow and white taxis (the Taliban had banned private ownership of cars unless they were cabs, so all owners painted their cars like taxis). ISAF soldiers and Afghan police arrested several top suspects who supported Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had been an Afghan politician and former Mujahideen leader, twice serving as the Prime Minister of Afghanistan in the 1990s. He carried a bottle of acid with him that he would throw on a woman if she showed bare skin in public. In 2002, ISAF identified Hekmatyar as the number one security threat, ahead of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. On 1 Sep 2003, he denied forming alliances with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, but praised attacks against American and other international forces - meaning us. His forces helped Osama bin Laden escape from the mountains of Tora Bora in 2002. We hunted for him during our tour.
On 22 September 2016, Hekmatyar was pardoned by the Afghan government as part of a peace deal between Hezb-i-Islami and the government. UN sanctions on him were formally lifted on 3 Feb 2017. On 4 May 2017, he returned to Kabul along with his fighters to meet President Ghani after spending two decades in hiding.
Women in light blue burkas (many were still afraid of the Taliban rules, but most wear them by tradition), many women just wearing headscarves, some in white burkas, one in a black one. Men wearing turbans, porkpie hats or just small white skull caps, some with gold embroidered caps. Traffic included donkey carts, horses and a huge wall of people surging throughout the downtown streets and markets. Heavy snow on the mountains all around us. We continued west passing heavy shell damage, wrecked T-55 tanks, BMP, BTR-60 and BRDM-2 hulks in large numbers everywhere, all stripped of any useful or removable metal for salvage.
Afghan donkey cart, Kabul.
View of Daraluman Palace overlooking Camp Julien. Designed by German engineers for King Amaah Khan in the early 1920s, Darulaman Palace was originally intended to be the location for Afghanistan’s new parliament. Over the years, due to shifting political currents, it has also seen a string of other uses including as a home for various government ministries, a medical school and a museum. It was gutted by fire in 1968, and since then has been repeatedly caught up in Afghanistan’s conflicts. It was again set ablaze during a coup attempt in 1978 and was subsequently shelled during fighting in the 1990s. The palace is almost completely restored as of 2021.
View of Daraluman Palace overlooking Camp Julien.
The exterior of Darulaman Palace, which is undergoing a complete renovation, in Kabul.
Passed by the Daraluman Palace with heavy damage, and viewed Talbeg Palace, slightly less damaged high and to the west. Visited the Int team in the All Source Intelligence Cell (ASIC), with CA Capt Cody Sherman, being replaced by CA Capt Dominic Goulet, CA Capt Oreste Babij being replaced by CA Capt Alain Chabot, CA Lt Mike Weisenfeldt being replaced by CA Lt Fred Jean, CA Sgt Renaud, and our HQ team with CA Lt David Moore, to be replaced by CA WO Chris K. Buczynski, CA WO Pasionek, to be replaced by CA Cpl Christopher E. Johnson, CA PO1 Montmarquette, to be replaced by CA WO Roch Guertin and CA Sgt Friesen. Int personnel due in to ISAF HQ will include J2XRm CA LCol Rob Williams, CCIRM, CA CWO Rolf Overhoff, CJ2Xm CA Maj Bill MacLean, CJ2, CA Capt Evan MacLean, CANIC, CA Capt Chris Pelletier, CA WO Wilson and with EW, CA Capt Charles Duplessis, and CSIS LO, CA John Whetstone. Some eye-opening information passed. One of our raids netted a huge cache of drug money, cell phones, documents, two shotguns, two pistols (Cygr and Makarov) with holsters and ammo.
Ilyushin Il-28U Beagle (Serial No. 003), preserved at the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghanistan Rehabilitation (OMAR) Land Mine Museum and Kabul Aviation Museum. Apart from mines, the museum displays a variety of other military hardware from wars fought in Afghanistan over the recent decades, including artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and a collection of Soviet military aircraft.
The CU-161 SAGEM Sperwer (Sparrowhawk) (Serial No. 161028). Greenwood Military Aviation Museum (GMAM), CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
Watched an SAGEM Sperwer (Sparrowhawk) UAV video, excellent graphics. Ran into other familiar faces in the camp. The ride back to Camp Warehouse was equally adventurous. We drove by the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghanistan Rehabilitation (OMAR) Land Mine Museum and Kabul Aviation Museum. I noted in the display compound there was an AN-2 Colt, Mi-24 Hind A helicopter, MiG-19, missiles and other aircraft parts (an IL-18 Beagle arrived sometime later). More briefings in the evening and more handover discussions with CA Maj Lester Leblanc. Crash.
The Sperwer is a French unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is remotely piloted and can cruise at altitudes of over 4,876 metres (16,000 feet) for as long as five hours. It can send back images of targets up to 150 kilometers from its operators on the ground. The Canadian Forces operated the Sperwer in Afghanistan between 2003 and its last mission on 18 April 2009 when it was replaced with the Israeli-built IAI Heron.
21 Jan 04 Wednesday. Many interviews, claim, ID, laundry with Mari-Paule, met Dutch Maj Ruth Mabelis who will send a Lt to our G2 section to act as an Air LO. Light rain, many meetings, discussion with G3 LCol Foster and G3 Ops Maj Dany Fortin.
Canadian, Irish, and New Zealand "bunker boys". To my left is Major Dany Fortin. Now Major-General Dany Fortin, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that the former commander of the NATO mission in Iraq will be in charge of COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort in the country. At present he is the chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command and will command the nation’s vaccine logistics and operations within a new branch of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). To his left is Maj Laflamme
Across from me is Col J. Richard Giguere, later BGen. He was the Multinational Brigade Chief of Staff. After Kabul, he was posted to the Canadian Embassy in Washington as Canadian Forces Military Attaché. In 2008, he was transferred to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, where he held the position of Director Current Operations for the Strategic Joint Staff. In September 2010, Brigadier-General Giguère was deployed to Kandahar as Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force - Afghanistan. Upon his return to Canada in August 2011, he assumed command of Land Force Quebec Area and Joint Task Force (East).
22 Jan 04 Thursday. Misty, interviews, pass, shoulder holster, laundry. Light on the Padre in the morning. OR chat with three staff, claim, access pass from the German Pass Control Office. Late work, both e-mails working, phone card used up. LCol Eric Tremblay arrived, 6 officers in our tent. Lots of space, good crew.
23 Jan 04 Friday. More interviews, in-briefs, e-mails. Lunch at the German pub. All Int staff from other countries, interesting conversations. Serious work in the evening.
Lieutenant General Peter John Devlin, CMM, NSC, CD later served as the Commander of the Canadian Army from 2010 to 2013. He is currently the President of Fanshawe College.
24 Jan 04 Saturday. Les flew out. Change of Command parade for BGen Devlin, handing over to BGen Lacroix. An Afghan Army band played a painfully slow “Oh Canada.” Met the Canadian Ambassador, Chris Alexander. Very intense conversation, lunch chat in depth, many meetings. PM, bright night sky, long day.
Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan Chris Alexander, second from right, speaks with a resident through an interpreter about Afghanistan’s upcoming elections in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Tuesday 16 Aug 2005.
Canadian Ambassador, Chris Alexander served as Canada's first resident Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. Following this he served as a Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan till 2009. After winning his seat in the 2011 election, Alexander was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
25 Jan 04 Sunday. End of first full week in Afghanistan! Many meetings. Afternoon market in camp. Must examine the blue lapis lazuli stones more closely. Commander’s conference. He noted that there is a thousand years of experience on staff. Chat with LCol Eric Tremblay, big things afoot, more meetings with staff, ideas, coffee, e-mails.
26 Jan 04 Monday. Padre mix-up, meeting mix-up, morning meetings good, coffee, discussion about Afghan elections, good group think at the German canteen. Lunch chat with CA Major (Retired) Lloyd Hackel (very surprized to see him in theatre as a civilian, we were on our Basic Intelligence Officer's (BIOC) course together in 1984), and the Civilian Psy Ops Team. Pay office, market hunt, bought a large (two-fist) blue stone piece of lapis lazuli. G2 meeting very good, first eight presentations. Farewells in the German Mess, very long meeting to 6:30PM. Translators, Liaison Officers etc. 7PM in the Mess Hall, chat with CA Capt Mike Bossie and Mari-Paule (she looked after the laundry det, vital to our well-being in theatre). President Hamid Karzai officially signed the Constitution of Afghanistan in a ceremony in Kabul.
Cpl Jamie Brendan Murphy
27 Jan 04 Tuesday. 0825 in the morning a convoy with soldiers from the Para Company, Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) in two Canadian Iltis vehicles left Camp Julien on the West end of the city, headed East following the main route used to travel to Camp Warehouse (about 45 minutes away). A man armed with a homemade improvised explosive device (IED) connected to two 76mm OF350 fragmentation rockets threw himself on the second vehicle carrying four Canadian soldiers and detonated the device. Only one of the rockets went off, the other flew a block away, landing on the balcony of a local family. Unfortunately, the rocket that exploded killed Cpl Jamie Murphy, a Canadian soldier sitting in the right rear passenger seat and injured the other three with shrapnel, including Cpl Richard Michael, Cpl Jeremy MacDonald and Lt Jason Feyko, who received a serious head wound. The bomber died along with one Kabuli civilian while nine other civilians were injured. The three injured soldiers were medically evacuated back to the German medical facility, and the most seriously injured soldier, Lt Feyko, was flown to a hospital in Germany. Their flak jackets, fragmentation blankets and equipment protected the two soldiers in the forward Iltis.
It had only been a few months since 2 Oct 2003, when Cpl Robbie C. Beerenfenger and Sgt Robert A. Short with the 3RCR Battle Group had been killed by a command detonated landmine just north of Camp Julien in Kabul.
It had been a long day and much work. Good team, difficult tasks, much close cooperation and good will/support from all nations.
Lieutenant General Andrew Brooke Leslie, PC, CMM, MSC, MSM, CD, served as the Chief of Land Staff and later as the Chief of Transformation. After his retirement from the CF, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Orléans, Ontario on 19 Oct 2015, serving until he stood down in 2019.
28 Jan 04 Wednesday. 0700AM briefing delayed, parade at 0730. MGen Andrew Leslie briefed the Canadian contingent in Camp Warehouse after a short memorial service. At approximately 10:25 AM, another member of the Opposing Militant Forces (OMF) attacked ISAF again, this time striking us close to the front gate of Britain’s Camp Souter, about 3 km west of Camp Warehouse. A British Land Rover transporting ISAF soldiers (Gurkas from Nepal) pulled up alongside a car traveling in the same direction. A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car (there was very little left of either him or the car afterwards) and killed one of the Gurka soldiers and seriously wounded four more, as well as two Estonian EOD soldiers following behind in a second vehicle. The bombers both appeared to be foreign nationals, not Afghanis.
MGen Leslie, RCHA, was promoted to LGen. He retired in 2011 after 35 years of service. In 2015, he was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Orléans. On 20 Nov 2015, he was named Chief Government Whip in the Commons.
28 Jan 2004, British soldiers inspect the scene around a wrecked military vehicle after it was hit by a car bomb attack in Kabul. A British soldier was killed and three were severely injured when a car bomb exploded as a convoy was passing a military camp. Mullah Hakim Latifi of the Taliban claimed responsibility.
Long day, supper in the German mess. Incoming flights were diverted to the American base at Bagram, which is located about 50 km north of our base, and then Bison AFVs transported the new arrivals to the Canadian compound. WO Chris K. Buczynski and Capt Melissa J. Olegario arrived late, after waiting for the coffin with Cpl Murphy to be loaded on the plane they had come in on. BGen Lacroix briefed them and then we helped them settle in about 11 PM. Spoke with Serb-Croat Lt Ljubljana here on his first week. Indications of more of the same to come tomorrow. My wife Faye’s father, George Jenkins, died Wednesday evening.
29 Jan 04 Thursday. Long day, lots of indications that more attacks are coming. Most are calm. Bed after 11PM. Learned of George’s passing from Sean. Eight American soldiers were killed and at least three were wounded when an explosion occurred at a weapons storage area near Ghazni. The explosion may have been caused by a booby-trap.
30 Jan 04 Friday. Photo fiasco, 4-man US ACE CI team (LCol Carl – no rank or last names used), GE MRE, Croatian MP Marenka Jovanovic on guard duty at the entrance to to KMNB HQ. Iran debrief. WO Chris K. Buczynski, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, Cpl Christopher E. Johnson, non-stop meetings. Long phone chat with Alma and then Faye. Alma up, Faye not. Sean going to PEI Saturday. Beautiful sunset, hills all colours – and no attack.
View to the south of the Afghan hills from Camp Warehouse.
Our Canadian G2 team in Kabul, WO Chris K. Buczynski, Capt Steve Burbridge, Maj Hal Skaarup, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, and Cpl Christopher E. Johnson.
LCol Bill W. Foster and I getting some sunshine, 22 Feb, on a cold winter day outside our tent. I bought the sheepskin vest at the Afghan market inside the camp. Bill later became a Colonel and served as the Senior Liaison Officer to US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany and was later appointed Instructor Faculty Advisor in Rome, Italy.
31 Jan 04 Saturday. Quiet. LCol Bill Foster commented on the multi-national staff’s poor radio procedure, “quite frankly, gentlemen, it sucks.” There was dead silence. “For those who don’t speak English – it is very bad.” Murmuring. “Alright, it’s REALLY UGLY.” This time they laughed. Crystal clear night. Phone chats. Nice long hot (5 minutes) shower! Spanish Int team, SP Capt Pedro Cabrera and SP Capt Rocio Cano, picked up two pers sneaking around the camp. CA Capt John P. Kubryn flew out.
01 Feb 04 Sunday. Sunday Routine, the one morning we can, so slept in. Office procedures at 1PM. Beautiful clear day, cold but sunny. In Kabul, former King Mohammad Zaher Shah and interim president Hamid Karzai joined for prayers at the downtown palace. Born in Kandahar, Hamid Karzai was the president of Afghanistan from 22 Dec 2001 to 29 Sep 2014.
Afghan families began celebrating Eid al-Adha. Known as the "Feast of the Sacrifice", Eid al-Adha is the latter of the two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and is considered to be the holier of the two. Also called Tabaski, it honours the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God's command. (The Jewish and Christian religions believe that according to Genesis 22:2, Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice.) Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, however, Allah provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, an animal (usually a sheep) is sacrificed ritually. One third of its meat is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy. Sweets and gifts are given, and extended family are typically visited and welcomed. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, and lasts for four days.
KMNB G2 Staff, Camp Warehouse.
SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli, RO LCol Lucian Vasile, IT WO Mauro Corradi, WO Chris K. Buczynski, TU Capt Hakan Aydin.
GE Capt Christian Detloff, GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, FI Capt Lauri Yli-Perttuli, RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc, NE Lt Mathijs Kniff, CA Capt Melissa J. Olegario.
FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, Maj Hal Skaarup, GE Marcel Brabant, SP Emmanuel Lopez, Cpl Christopher E. Johnson.
GE Capt Thorsten Broder, myself and GE Capt Thorsten Brode VSP Capt Pedro Cabrera and SP Capt Rocio Cano, Maj Hal Skaarup, SP Major, Finland Officer.
SW Elias Tapper, IT WO Mauro Corradi, NE Lt Mathijs Kniff, GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, FI Juha Rintalla,
CA Capt Melissa J. Olegario, TU Latif Oygur, RO Justin Baluta, SW Capt Patrick Olmerud, NO Paal, GE Marcel Brabant.
02 Feb 04 Monday. Meetings, meetings and more meetings, including 0830 Ops, followed by Targeting, G2 staff meeting, introductions to German G2 staff. ¾ Moon, very bright.
03 Feb 04 Tuesday. Convoy to ISAF HQ, Int Conference. LCol (WSE) Perry Metaxis, Maj Bill MacLean, PM COMASSESSREP reload. Two rockets landed on TV Hill about 8 km to the West of us around 10 PM. The first rocket struck a cemetery surrounded by houses and the second landed on a steep hillside nearby. Attention getting but not overly so.
04 Feb 04 Wednesday. Air threat briefing to Commander. Multiple chats, new approach.
(MCpl Brian Walsh, DND Photo)
Heavy Weapons Cantonment Ceremony: ISAF and the Afghan Army succeeded in moving large numbers of heavy weapons from various warlords (tanks, rocket launchers, heavy artillery) out of Kabul. From left: Gen Bizmullah Kahn, the Chief of Defence; General Wardak, the Deputy Minister of Defence for Afghanistan; Canadian Ambassador Chris Alexander; LGen Andrew Leslie; and LGen Karimi, Chief Operations Officer, Afghani Forces.
05 Feb 04 Thursday. SP Capt Rocio Cano with two Spanish URVs (HUMV variant) mounted with two .50 cal machine-guns, and FI Capt Lauri Yli-Perttula with me, en route to ISAF HQ. MGen Andrew Leslie, Carl and Johnny from the US CI team, Pam with the Political Advisor (POLAD) office. Small co-ord group included CA LCol (WSE) Perry Metaxas. Ops discussion in the CANIC with CA Capt Pelletier and the Canadian crew, CA Capt Alain Chabot and CA Lt Fred Jean. Back to KMNB HQ. Each tent has a designated “tent bitch” who ensures there are no casualties or hazards etc., particularly after a rocket attack. I won the lottery. Unit fracas defused – barely. I probably spent more time trying to keep senior country A personnel from choking country B people than any other “management” task on the tour.
06 Feb 04 Friday. To ISAF HQ with GE Capt Thorsten Broder. Briefed CA MGen Andrew Leslie, CA LCol (WSE) Perry Metaxas, civilian POLAD adviser Pam, chat with CA Capt Pelletier and WO at the CANIC. Meeting with J2 crew, 19 US pers, one FR, one UK, 2 CA staff. HQ market, bought three Lapis Lazuli stones. Two Iltis drivers took us back to Camp Warehouse on a different route, lots of kids waving. 1430 hrs major Int briefing, meeting, plans. Most interesting. PM laundry.
07 Feb 04 Saturday. To ISAF HQ. Very interesting meetings with MGen Andrew Leslie, US BGen Fuller and all senior staff. Convoy of two Canadian SUVs with G2 reps from Finland, Germany, Romania and Switzerland. Brief stop at the US PX on the way back, batteries for CD player etc. PM – ICNC threat package prepared. German mess, DA Lisbet. Snow! First in Kabul on us.
08 Feb 04 Sunday. Snow. Controlled explosive ordnance demolition (EOD) blast not far away. Discussion with Eric, interesting questions. Missing HUMMVs a concern. Acting duty officer (DO). Interesting – and late PM.
09 Feb 04 Monday. Heavy snowfall. With RO LCol Lucian Vasile to ISAF HQ, 40-minute drive in two vehicles, very slow going. Spoke with ISAF COS, CA Col Joseph Serge Labbé and CA Capt Chris Pelletier at the CANIC, back to Camp Warehouse shortly afterwards. MGen Andrew Leslie handed over his command to a German MGen. LGen Rick Hillier assumed command of ISAF. For security purposes, the practice parade was actually the real thing. The deception worked, and there were no incidents. G2 meeting. In the evening, IT MWO Alessandro Maresciallo-Capo Nichilo drove us to the mess. Cold, quiet night. COS1, pay office visit.
ISAF HQ, J2 Group, July 2004. CA Col Serge Labbé, US BGen Fuller, CA LGen R.J. Hillier, CA LCol MacDonald, CA LCol R.S. Williams, CA LCol (WSE) Pericles Metaxas-Mariatos, CA Maj W.R. MacLean, UK Col Winfield, CA Capt J.A.C. Pelletier.
10 Feb 04 Tuesday. ISAF HQ. Low layer of fog but clear on top. 15 min to HQ (new drivers don’t tail drag much). First Orders Group (OGp) with LGen Rick Hillier. Very strange report in the afternoon from Johnny with the AC IC about a possible US Op. BGen Lacroix not happy – and with good reason. Turkish “flash report.”
11 Feb 04 Wednesday. ISAF HQ again, clear and cool. Sharp introduction, “one paragraph” brief with US BGen Fuller and CA Col Serge Labbé. Coffee with RO Maj Lucien Vasile and SP Capt Rocio Cano. Back to Camp Warehouse to meet both the visiting CDS and MND. Coffee with the G2 team. Good 3PM session with UK briefing on remote controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIED) and discussion. PM, outstanding back brief by combat team from the French contingent (tout en Française) – my privilege to be there – all officers sharp as tacks! Chat with a Bulgarian officer. Worked on Int History project. Clear night, Big Dipper completely upside down. Kabul’s 5,800’ altitude and lack of city electrical lighting allows the stars to be very clear and visible right down to the mountain horizon line.
In Khost, the largest city in the southeastern part of Afghanistan, Major Mohammed Isa Khan, the deputy intelligence director of Khost Province, was assassinated in his car by gunman Hafez Elal. Elal tried to escape but was chased down by bodyguards. To avoid capture, he detonated explosives strapped to his body. Taliban spokesman Mohammed Saiful Adel claimed responsibility. East of Kabul, British troops found a bomb made with a modified anti-tank mine.
12 Feb 04 Thursday. Remotely controlled IED detonated along one of our routes, forced us to take a new route to ISAF HQ. Huge traffic jam. Meeting with LGen Hillier, flak jacket, standing. Document Number Two issued from the Commander. Chat with US AC CI Carl. Two rockets landed in Kabul, one in the Khair Khana district injuring two children and one in the Badham Bagh district, no casualties. Romanian Security Clearance situation (the Partners for Peace clearance needs to be upgraded). PM, shoes, hangars, phone calls. German questions. A German Luna UAV went out of control and landed unders its parachute on the roof of a home in Kabul.
Luna UAV used by the German contingent at Camp Warehouse.
13 Feb 04 Friday. Preparations for operations. Pause. Over to ISAF HQ – standing by for activity.
German TPz (Transportpanzer) Fuchs (fox) AFVs in convoy, preparing to depart Camp Warehouse.
14 Feb 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ in German vehicles with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt. Pick-up team did not get the Person Under Consideration (PUC) for arrest. Back to KMNB HQ and transferred to an Irish contingent vehicle. Off to see a senior Afghan Official named Engineer Amin with three Afghan NDS and PD heads. Met with MGen Salangi, head of Afghan NDS (an illiterate thug who would become a three-star general later in the tour), and MGen Sharif, head of the Kabul City Police (well-educated, worked his way up the ranks through staff schools, training and merit, and a genuine general). Interesting interviews through interpreters. Late night reports. Mail, two packages, cookies and sheets, books and goodies.
15 Feb 04 Sunday. Light morning, then back to the fast pace. Beautiful day, plus 13°C. Market. PW points. Two Lapis lazuli stones, DVDs. Lots of reports to write. Examined care parcels, mm-mmm good! One of our R22eR soldiers shot himself in the face with his rifle in his sleeping quarters at Camp Julien. He survived and was placed in critical condition.
On 15 Feb 2004, in Gulbahar, former members of the Northern turned over eight multiple rocket launchers, four tanks and three Scud missiles to the Afghan National Army. Along with Col Helmenshmidt, we later got a close up look at the SCUD 2 like the one shown above, at Poli-Charki just to the East of Camp Warehouse. They were fully serviceable and manned by serious crews.
16 Feb 04 Monday. Prepared a G2 certificate to the Bulgarian Major on his rotation out. IER for Swedish Major Bengt Baldesten. SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli joins our G2 group (two of the four Swiss Officers, SZ Maj Alexis Alam on the left and Z LCol Thomas Beccarelli on the right, with Maj Hal Skaarup in Kabul worked in our shop). Good day. Chat with the Irish Liaison Officers (LNOs).
17 Feb 04 Tuesday. Chocolate package #3 opened. Farewell get-together in the Swedish contingent camp, fireplace roaring under the stars, toured their camp with SW Major Bengt Baldesten, and Z LCol Thomas Beccarelli. BGen Jocelyn Lacroix wants to change trades and join the Int Branch. The game is on again. An incomplete Plan A is to be completed before Plan B and Plan C can go ahead. Most interesting day. Departure certificate presented to the Bulgarian Major.
Abdallah Parmach was born in Kabul, moved to Denmark and became their translator, LCol Eric Tremblay and Maj Hal Skaarup on the roof of the Kabul Police HQ.
18 Feb 04 Wednesday. With LCol Tremblay, Danish LCol Koefoed, and Danish-Dari Interpreter Abdullah Parmach to visit LGen Baba Jan, head of Kabul CP. Traffic jam forced us to dismount three blocks from the Afghan Police HQ. We speed walked through the crowded streets of the city to get to the meeting on time. Abdullah had his rifle at the ready (and he was born in Kabul), so I kept my flak jacket buttoned up tight and one hand on my pistol holster. People seemed friendly enough, but then so did the suicide bombers.
The Swedes took us up on the roof of the HQ, beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains to the west, photos. Back to Camp Warehouse, good chat with the Abdullah and LCol Koefoed on the way. Meeting at KMNB HQ with AC CI Carl, Perry et al. PM, IT MWO Alessandro Maresciallo-Capo Nichilo’s farewell at the German “Wolfshoele” bar. Late night, super clear view of the stars.
19 Feb 04 Thursday. PO1 Labossière, taskings from LCol H. PM, dinner with the German contingent, GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt presiding. Some book work.
20 Feb 04 Friday. Over to ISAF HQ. AC CI meeting, BGen Fuller, Carl et al. Camp P. PM, made lots of progress on the Int History, worked late. On the news there had been 80cm of snow in Halifax (White Juan).
21 Feb 04 Saturday. Light rain, cleaned the office. Throat clogged with dust.
22 Feb 04 Sunday. Sheepskin jacket photo. Down with the Kabul cronk, early to bed.
23 Feb 04 Monday. Over to ISAF HQ, LGen Rick Hillier et al. New POLAD, Catherine A.J. Phinney. PM farewell for GE Dr Schellendinger.
24 Feb 04 Tuesday. Transport late, over to ISAF HQ with Maj Mike Purcell. Chat with Norwegian ISAF HQ Chief Assessments and with his Danish, Dutch and US analysts and visitors. PM CEWOC kafuffle.
25 Feb 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ, meeting chaired by LGen Hillier. Back to ISAF HQ in the evening accompanied by GE Capt Christian Detloff, GE Capt Thorsten Broder and Maj T, to hear a presentation by the head of the Afghan NDS, Mr Saleh and his crew. Late night re-write of Capt Melissa J. Olegario’s threat assessment.
26 Feb 04 Thursday. Over to ISAF HQ. Major event discussion. Meetings six ways to Sunday. Over to Camp Julien in the evening, BBQ at the ASIC, back to Camp Warehouse after dark – interesting trip, neat stuff. Late PM, false ambush alarm.
27 Feb 04 Friday. Gave an Int Branch pin to SW Major Bengt Baldesten, spoke with GE Maj Michael Karl. Multiple taskings. Cold Mountain, cold night.
TU Capt Hakan Aydin, Maj Hal Skaarup and GE Capt Thorsten Broder, Kabul.
Walking back to the Canadian lines, view looking West.
28 Feb 04 Saturday. Long day, first O Gp at 0800 hrs. BGen Lacroix handed me a legal file to review. Second Surobi file prepared. CA Capt Gary Hayes arrived for a visit from Camp Mirage. 1500 hrs briefing, 1600 hrs briefing, 1700 hrs briefing. Legal file reviewed again, Exercise “rush”, SF. Turkish tea in the evening with TU Capt Hakan Aydin, CA Capt Melissa J. Olegario, GE Capt Christian Detloff, CA WO Chris K. Buczynski, SZ Maj Alexis Alam, and DK Maj Peter.
Maj Hal Skaarup, SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli, CA Capt Gary Hayes, CA WO Chris K. Buczynski, RO NCO, Kabul HQ lockdown.
29 Feb 04 Sunday. Sunday routine, still have a slight cough. Beautiful day, late night, lots of work done. Two Swedes in looking for maps.
01 Mar 04 Monday. Start of Muslim Ashura holiday for the locals. Calm until about 9:30PM. During public ceremonies in Kabul, of Shia Muslims commemorating the slaying of their leader Imam al-Husayn, an Afghan National Army cadet shouted abusive language and spat at a banner, prompting the Shia Muslims to throw stones at the soldiers. A hand grenade was thrown, and the cadets then fired into the crowd, killing one and injuring sixteen. No ISAF troops were involved.
02 Mar 04. Tuesday. Very bright and sunny day, bought two Lapis Lazuli stones. Croatian Pizza, meetings. PM, GE Capt Thorsten Broder's birthday, wine at the Feuchte Patrone (dirty dropzone). SW Swedish Major Bengt Baldesten’s last night, he gave me a pin from the Swedish Army. Quiet in the Joint Operations Centre (JOC).
Morning coffee and brainstorming session.
03 Mar 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ, Joint Operations Intelligence, Information and Security (JOIIS) discussion with US BGen Fuller, CA Col Serge Labbé and CA LCol Rob Williams. Polish translator and POLAD, Catherine Phinney, Campaign Plan letter from Maj MacK.
Maj Hal Skaarup and WO Chris K. Buczynski, Camp Warehouse.
04 Mar 04 Thursday. Morning Commander’s brief, he liked the brainstorming concept. PM, Turkish coffee with TU Capt Hakan Aydin, WO Chris K. Buczynski and Cpl Christopher E. Johnson, and Capt Melissa J. Olegario. Phones working. Feeling better.
05 Mar 04 Friday. Visit to the Turkish Camp.
05 Mar 04 Friday. Visit to the Turkish Camp.
05 Mar 04 Friday. Visit to the Turkish Camp. Security incident - headache.
06 Mar 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ with DK LCol Niels Koefoed. Drove to the Kabul Garrison (KG) HQ in the afternoon with the German crew, after a long detour through the airport. Big Russian An-400 sitting on the runway. Met with a 5-man Afghan Security group, two Germans, an Afghan translator and two Swedish officers, plus myself. Long and convoluted detour route west, north and then east past the airport. Observed a Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter (Serial No. 22), mounted on pylons in front of the Afghan Air Force Station, Kabul Airport. Counted three wrecked AN-2 Colt biplane transports, an IL-18 reconnaissance jet, and An-12 Cub, four Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, four Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters on the airfield.
Afghan Mi-17 Hip helicopter, medevac at Kabul airfield.
Blown T-55 tank, Kabul.
Everywhere, as far as the eye could see and too many to count, hulls and wreckage from burnt-out, shot-up heavily stripped armoured vehicles (mostly ex-Russian) including BRDM-2, BTR-60, BMP, PT-76, GAZ tractors and trench-diggers etc all abandoned or left in heavily mined fields visible in all directions. Between the airport and Camp Warehouse there are several hundred, possibly a thousand derelict armoured vehicles gutted down to the last removable bolt before being abandoned where they sit. Drove by many ziggurat-shaped kilns for drying bricks. In the evening the French contingent held a get-together for us. Spoke with Capt Miriam. Security clearance controversy ad nauseum. So many of our G2 team are from non-NATO countries, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland etc., with the result that access to information is difficult to enable etc.
Capt Melissa J. Olegario with Afghans and AFV wreckage near Kabul. On her return to Canada, Melissa published a very-well illustrated Journal, "Etch-A-Sketch - My Images of Kabul", (DigiGraphics, Kingston, Ontaro, Nov 2004).
07 Mar 04 Sunday. Sunday routine. Over to the Kabul Garrison at 2PM, this time meeting with 16 Afghan Police Generals, each in charge of his own district in Kabul and area. Meeting chaired by LGen Salangi and his staff, plus the GE Deputy Commander of KMNB, GE Capt, NO Maj, a Dari-speaking NO Capt, Afghan translator, SW Maj and SW Capt, FR Maj and myself. The Americans begin Operation Mountain Storm which runs across Southern and Eastern Afghanistan. Their aim was to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban infrastructure.
08 Mar 04 Monday. International Women’s Day in Kabul. Quiet. New folders. In the evening our COS, Col Richard Giguere, gave a long speech to the Canadian crew in French. Over to the German “Wolfshoele” bar for a farewell to IR Capt Gerry Brennan from the Irish contingent – all G2 Int crew.
German “Wolfshoele” bar gang, SZ Alexis Alam, CA Maj Hal Skaarup, RO LCol Lucian Vasile, CA Cpl Chris Johnson, SP Pedro Cabrera, SW Maj Lars-Erik Bergwall.
CA WO Chris B, GE Capt Christian Detloff, IR Gerry Brennan, CA Melissa, TU Capt Hakan Aydin, GE Capt Thorsten Broder.
09 Mar 04 Tuesday. File folder – moving fast. In the evening there was an attempted assassination hit on Governor Muhammad Taj’s bodyguard, four killed two wounded. Kabul-area warlords and commanders turned over more than a dozen tanks to the Afghan Defence Ministry, placing them under the control of ISAF and the Afghan National Army.
Afghan T-55 Tanks in a Heavy Weapons Cantonment.
An American outpost in Nangalam, Kunar Province was attacked by insurgents armed with rockets and rifles. The Americans called in a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, which put paid to the attack.
Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, returns to mission after receiving fuel from a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, over the skies of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
10 Mar 04 Wednesday. Laundry, Nicole Q, file folder briefing to R22eR team. Earthquake in the evening. The United Nations reported that 28% of the 1.4 million Afghans registered to vote were women. This percentage was up dramatically from the 16% registered in December 2003.
11 Mar 04 Thursday. Target B is no longer on the file folder list – he was one of the 4 killed in the 9 March attack. One hour drive north to Bagram with the G3, LCol Bill Foster, Maj B and Capt Melissa J. Olegario. Visited the US PX. Lots of tanks and AFVs severely shot to pieces in open ground. Their ammo must have exploded to leave them shredded open like cans of sardines in every direction. Bare rock and mountains in all directions. Nice clear day, fair road, one hour each way. In the evening there was a warning of a surprise threat posed by a civilian demonstration possible in the morning. FR Major Fred Miguel added to the G2 team.
12 Mar 04 Friday. Civilian demonstration of 1,000 people, not the 30,000 predicted. New Dutch Air Int LO, Vincent, and IT WO Salvatore "Toto" Miraglia. Croatian pizza in the evening with our Canadian G2 crew.
13 Mar 04 Saturday. Meeting at the Kabul Garrison with three Afghan Security Generals, two Swedish officers and an interpreter. Stopped at ISAF HQ, brief chat with UK Capt PJ – high energy. In the evening there were two rocket strikes, one flew over a UN compound and the US military HQ but did not detonate. The second flew over the centre of the city and exploded in a hillside cemetery. ISAF HQ rattled.
Greek VBL (Véhicule blindé léger), a light armoured vehicle built in France.
14 Mar 04 Sunday. Sunday routine – at last…but then the duty phone in the tent began ringing. The Swedes drove our G2 Int team across the line to visit the Italian and Greek Camp and their Afghan Market. Quiet.
15 Mar 04 Monday. Meeting at the Kabul Garrison, this time with 16 Afghan General Officers present, two Canadians, one Swedish officer, one German and a translator. Office furniture moved around. Everything is perpetually covered in dust, no matter how much we clean with disinfectant and brushes. The Americans began Operation Mountain Storm, with the aim of pushing insurgents out of Afghanistan into a region of rebel sanctuaries, while meeting the Pakistani Army driving from the opposite direction.
16 Mar 04 Tuesday. Meetings, Swedish foot-long hotdogs. Back brief to the COS & LCol Roy. Windy.
17 Mar 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ. Turkish coffee in the evening with three Canadians, two Turks, one German, and one Italian. Windy, dusty, dreams, woke up tired. High profile visitors in town. US Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Afghan interim President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss security and preparations for the June elections.
18 Mar 04 Thursday. Windy and hazy, dusty sunrise, and cold. Lunch with the Turkish Ambassador to NATO. Strange brew in the evening with two missions rolling – one of which depended on a blind Man guiding the combat team to the bad guys hideout.
19 Mar 04 Friday. The blind man and his handler “didn’t show.” All were left sitting in the dark. The second op was successful, with a bomb maker and his explosive supply shop seized intact. GE LCol Schonrade got it right. Good brainstorming session, many meetings and briefings– and the dust never stops, blowing into everything.
20 Mar 04 Saturday. Up early. I had been invited to accompany Kabul Multinational Brigade (KMNB) German Deputy Commander Col Mayer to the Olympic Stadium the Afghan New Year’s celebrations on Saturday, 20 Mar 2004(the year 1383 in Afghanistan). BGen Jocelyn LaCroix, Commander, KMNB, was away, Col Richard Giguere, the DComd, was inthe Command Post, the COS was in an alternate location, and the G3 was on duty, leaving me to sit as the sniper bait in the guest-reviewing stand.
I was seated near then Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier in the Kabul stadium, and alongside Doctor (and Afghan Lieutenant-General) Sohaila Siddiq, (at that time Afghanistan’s Minister for Health). I had learned a bit of Russian in classes at the University of Ottawa, and she stated she had trained in Moscow, so she spoke some as well. Speaking in Russian, she looked at my pistol and fiercely said “when I fought the Mujahadeen, I only used my KNIFE!” (Made me jump for second as she thrust her hand forward). Then she unhappily explained that security guards at the airport security checkpoint had confiscated her knife. I said, “даманикогда не должна быть без ножа!” (A lady should never be without a knife), and I gave her my Swiss Army knife. Although we had both mangled the Russian language, she smiled and graciously accepted my gift.
Sohaila Sediq, a Pashtun, was one of two female ministers in President Karzai's cabinet and one of only two female generals ever to serve in the Afghan army. She earned a reputation for saving the lives of soldiers and civilians during the rocket attacks in the 1990s. When the Taliban took over, they ordered her to leave the hospital. Within months, the regime realized it had lost the country's best surgeon and asked her to return to the military hospital, where she treated and earned the respect of soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Under the Taliban, she kept up the instruction of medicine for women, and managed to reopen the women's section of the hospital where she worked, after the Taliban had closed it.
Siddiq was well respected by many Afghan feminists for her actions during the Taliban era. Both she and her sister Sidiqa, who was a professor at the Kabul Polytechnical Institute, were two of very few women who successfully refused to wear the burka. She is quoted as having said, "When the religious police came with their canes and raised their arms to hit me, I raised mine to hit themback. Then they lowered their arms and let me go.
After the removal of the Taliban government from Afghanistan by the Allied forces, Siddiq was appointed as the Minister of Public Health and sworn in by Interim President Hamid Karzai. One of her first acts was to request help from the international community for the establishment of a medical work force of women. She met a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) that was sent to the war-torn country to assess its health needs and said that the training of Afghan women is key because they are a crucial asset in the health system. She accomplished a great deal for her country but died from complications of COVID-19 in Kabul on 4 December2020, at the age of 72.
Shortly afterward meeting Doctor Siddiq, we watched a marchpast on the field. Three jumpers marched in the parade in full gear, all looking very hard. Their parachute equipment did not look 100%either. These Afghan paratroopers initially reminded me of some of the rough characters I had met on outlaw drop zones, but they were friendly and animated when I later spoke with them through an interpreter. The parade was led by a group of people carrying the Afghan flag and the flags of the guest nations. Everyone in the reviewing stand stood up whenever his or her flag was marched past, and there were many (more than 40 nations were part ofISAF). Tractors led the parade, followed by two huge bulls. Groups would stop to give demonstrations, including a display of cock-fighting. LGen Siddiq smiled and leaned over to whisper that this was one of their most celebrated customs. There were several groups of male drummers and dancers – step left, step right, twirl left three times, clap hands, touch the ground and repeat the sequence, while giant bongo-like drums were being hammered hard non-stop. It was a long display, but very interesting. The parade included groups of boxers, kick-boxers, judo and karate groups and martial arts displays, followed by older sword and stick fighters with small leather shields. A skittish donkey pulling a red puffball-bedecked cart carrying three old men got nervous and nearly tipped the cart over. A surly looking Afghan soldier armed with a shiny AK-47 Kalashnikov hovered in front of us longer than he should have. President Karzai did not arrive, as apparently he had been meeting with King Zahir Shah.
As the parade drew to a close, we looked up from our places in the stadium and watched an Afghan Army Mi-17Hip helicopter whirling overhead as it dropped a single female jumper, Brigadier-General Khatool Mohammadzai. She had been commissioned in the military of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan during the 1980s, when she became the first woman from the country to be trained as a paratrooper. I later learned she had logged over 600 jumps in her career. She continued to serve in the Afghan military as an instructor until the Taliban took power in1996. Reinstated to the military created after the Allied intervention in2001, she became the first woman in Afghan history to reach general officer rank.
After the jump, I seized the opportunity to speak with her through an interpreter. I knew there were half a dozen of us who were hoping to jump with the Afghan paratroops and asked her if it could be arranged. She thought it would be possible. The general gave me her address and we arranged to meet again. I then contacted another interested jumper, Colonel Serge Labbé at ISAF HQ in Kabul, who had good contacts with the U.S. Army in theatre. He arranged for the use of their jumpmasters and parachute equipment for a number of us keen to earn our Afghan wings. Being a military parachutist and avid skydive, I was optimistic about jump opportunities, and General Khatool felt she could make it happen. Other elements in the KMNB intervened and eventually vetoed the venture.
General Khatool had invited me to visit her and her son in her apartment in Kabul, and in the company of a security detail and an interpreter, we made the visit. She met us in her full general’s uniform. As we spoke, I noted she was wearing Russian jump wings with a 550-jump tag (she now has more than 600). l I asked about how she became the commander of the airborne forces in Afghanistan. Battlefield commissions in combat – almost everyone else on her team had been killed.
She had been born in Kabul c1966, joined the Army in 1983, and made her first jump in 1984. After earning her wings, she studied at the Kabul University legal facility, graduating with a bachelor’s degree so she could be commissioned as an officer. She took advanced studies at a military academy in the Soviet Union and later served as a parachute instructor.
She married in 1990 and had one son before her husband, a fellow army officer, was killed in combat in 1991. After the collapse of the government in 1992, she served under the Mujahadeen government during the Afghan civil war and was put in charge of women's training for the army's air defence branch. After the Taliban took control of the country in 1996, she was forced out of the military and as a widow was effectively confined indoors. She survived on odd jobs such as sewing and ran a secret school for girls.
Following the fall of the Taliban in 2001, she joined Afghanistan's newly formed military, and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general by President Hamid Karzai. She got herself back into physical shape and resumed parachute jumping. She trained with American airborne forces and worked with NATO officers to initiate a new paratroop training program for the ANA. In 2004, she competed against 35 male competitors from Afghanistan and other countries in a parachuting contest and won.
In addition to serving as a paratrooper, Mohammadzai was made deputy director for women's affairs in the Afghan Ministry of Defence. By 2012, she had been promoted to director of women's affairs in the National Army, and deputy director of planning and physical training for a planned disaster preparation force. She is one of the only two high-ranking female officers in the Afghan military. It was my privilege to have met them both.
After the parade, LGen Sohailai Siddiq (Doctor and Afghan Minister for Health). posed with me for a photo.
Back to the Command Post on the other side of the stadium through the crowd on foot – interesting. On the road with three German jeeps around the airfield. Brainstorming the previous night led the G2 team to put together a really humorous “Really Unclassified” INTSUM. Spent the evening with the Spaniards. Brief chat with Canadian Ambassador Chris Alexander. Long but really interesting day. Missed the DANCON 25 km march, but GE Capt Christian Detloff, SP Capt Pedro Cabrera and SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli participated in the morning.
21 Mar 04 Sunday. Sunday routine, easy morning, looking at paintings in the Market with Hakan and Capt Melissa J. Olegario. In the afternoon there was an assassination attempt on the Governor of Herat, Ismail Kahn, a major warlord. His son, who had been the Afghan Civil Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq, was killed by a rocket propelled grenade during a gun battle in Herat. Two police officers also died in the attack. Herat military commander Zaher Naib Zada claimed responsibility for the assassination. Zada had earlier been fired by Sadiq's father. Factional fighting between supporters of Zahir Nayebzada and of Ismail Khan involving tanks and guns ensued in the region, leaving more than 100 people dead. Nayebzada insisted that Sadiq had only been killed in self-defense. Bad business, Ismail Kahn was for all practical purposes, the second most powerful warlord, after Mohammad Qasim Fahim, in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai later said Sadiq's death was caused by a "small accident." He called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the assassination oattempt and dispatched Afghan National Army troops to Herat.
Mohammad Qasim Fahim was a served as Afghanistan's Vice President from June 2002 until December 2004 and from November 2009 until his death in2014. Between September 2001 and December 2004, he also served as the Defene Minister under the Afghan Transitional Administration. As the military commander of the Northern, Fahim captured Kabul from the Taliban government in the fall of 2001. In 2004, President Hamid Karzai provided Fahim the honorary title Marshal.
On the same day, one of our SPERWER UAVs crashed on the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
22 Mar 04 Monday. Over to Kabul Garrison with Hakan. Questions concerning the events at Herat. The Swedes brought in photos taken at the Olympic Stadium. They had used a telephoto lens to show me the sniper’s eye view of the VIP gallery and myself. Turkish coffee with our crew in the evening. Very windy and cool. GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt back. FR Maj Gilles Etienne rotated out.
23 Mar 04 Tuesday. Defusing situations. Windstorms cleared the sky. Brightest night for viewing stars so far, very bright shooting star. Two operations underway. Banged into a post in the dark, gravel embedded in my hand – washed thoroughly.
24 Mar 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ. Extra troops on duty. CA Capt Chris Pelletier, POLAD, CA LCol Rob Williamson chat. First ride in the new Mercedes G-Wagon 4X4. In the evenings I worked on writing the first three volumes of Out of Darkness, Light, a history of Canadian Military Intelligence. It had built to 777 pages with 1008 footnotes. I was able to ask for reviews by my colleagues via the Internet, and it kept me close to the phones and duty centre in the evenings - many of the international staff had English language difficulties and when a crisis hit, they could lean into the door and ask for help.
25 Mar 04 Thursday. Malarone anti-malaria tablets issued – one a day from 28 Apr until after seven days out of theatre.
Atovaquone/proguanil, sold under the trade names Malarone among others, is a combination of two antimalarial medication atovaquone and proguanil. It is used to treat and prevent malaria, including chloroquine-resistant malaria.
Boarded a Bison for transport to the Afghan Army’s small arms range a few km east. Fired a Dragunov SVD-63 sniper rifle with the Bulgarians, as well as 10 rounds of 9-mm from my pistol. Hit what I shot at. We observed gunners on a BRDM-2 using their heavy machine-guns (HMG) on targets. Spoke some Russian with a Bulgarian Lieutenant. Back to Camp Warehouse before lunch. Canadian tent.
Dragunov SVD-63 sniper rifle, featuring a wooden handguard/gas tube cover and skeletonized stock. This one is on display in the New Brunswick Military History Museum. The Dragunov became the standard squad support weapon of several countries, including those of the former Warsaw Pact.
Bulgarian BRDM-2 AFVs, Camp Warehouse.
26 Mar 04 Friday. Over to ISAF HQ, met with the Int teams from the GENIC and CANIC as well as representatives from the Belgian, Norwegian, Croatian and USNIC staffs. PM, questions on the location of belligerents, Danish and Canadian comments. The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resloution 1536 which extended the mandate of UNAMA for another full year.
Kabul Garrison BRDM-2.
Kabul Garrison BTR-60 APC.
Kabul Garrison, BM-21 Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL) in need of some serious maintenance.
27 Mar 04 Saturday. Transport mix-up. Visited the Kabul Garrison Afghan Security partners with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt. Proposal to work with the KG. UK Col Winfield idea change. Gathering around the Swedish campfire with the Turks, Swedes and Canadian Int crews.
28 Mar 04 Sunday. Clean up of ODL draft. Capt Melissa J. Olegario shared her thoughts on the G2 Int situation. Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai announced that the national elections scheduled for June would be delayed until September to give the UN more time to prepare.
29 Mar 04 Monday. Over to ISAF HQ first thing in the morning. Meeting with Maj Bill MacLean and LCol (WSE) Perry Metaxas. TU Capt Hakan Aydin bargained for and Capt Melissa J. Olegario picked up a Bushkazi painting on my behalf. (It is now on display in the home of my Aunt Ursula Estabrooks). NGO briefing to GE Susan, Finland and Afghan crew. In the evening “Op Hammer.” Recognized the Afghan bodyguard carrying an AK-74 (top of the line weapon compared to a standard AK-47, so the person carrying it isn’t what he seems). COS meeting with Perry, two Irish Majors and Danish LCol. Printed a draft ODL and mailed it to Pappy MacKinnon in Ottawa for review. In the evening learned my uncle Bernard is going downhill with a tumor in his head, worked late.
Author on a T-62 tank, Camp Blackhorse, Poli-Charki, 30 March 2004.
Afghan Army BMP-2 AFVs being fired up at Camp Blackhorse, Poli-Charki, in preparation for a practice parade, 30 March 2004.
30 Mar 04 Tuesday. East to Poli-Charki to visit Camp Blackhorse with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt. Examined cantoned SCUD missile launchers, FROG-7 missile launchers, T-62, T-54/54 tanks, BMP-1 and BMP-2 AFVs and BRDM-2 recce vehicles. Ice cream with US, German, Bulgarian, Romanian and Afghan soldiers. Briefing at ISAF HQ in the evening given by Col Amon, DComd of the NDA in Afghanistan, followed by a briefing with the UK pers. Late evening around the Swedish campfire. WO Chris K. Buczynski drove us back. 30-year-old Afghan man died after being struck by a CanadianG-Wagon.
Capt Melissa J. Olegario with one of our Mercedes-Benz G-Class vehicles. Sometimes called G-Wagen, is a mid-size four-wheel drive luxury SUV manufactured by Magna Steyr in Austria and sold by Mercedes-Benz.
Italian 4X4 nicknamed the "Totomobile", driven by WO Chris K. Buczynski.
31 Mar 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ. Better day, two solid, successful operations the evening before. Chat with LCol Bill Foster, moving forward. 3PM, questions. Over to Camp Julien with camera. Calmer drive. Good feeling about the day. Spoke with CA Capt Neveu visiting from Ottawa. Back to Camp Warehouse after dark with WO Chris K. Buczynski driving. Afghan music blaring and our hair a bit on end in the small convoy, guess we were a bit nervous in the dark with him driving and me navigating through unlit streets.
LAV IIIs, Camp Warehouse, spring 2004.
01 Apr 04 Thursday. Over to ISAF HQ with Maj Mike Purcell, meeting in the CFJIC with LCol Kelly, LCol Desy. Targeting meeting with DH LCol Koefoed, CA Maj Bill MacLean, CA Capt Dave Buchanan, FR Maj Fred Miguel, CA Maj Mike Purcell, WO Chris K. Buczynski and I. G2 meeting, passage of information. Early turn in. Rain.
02 Apr 04 Friday. Post office, ODL mailed. Mike’s first target package ready. Romanian cookout in the evening, BBQ, great feed, heavy rain, lots of lightning. More rain.
03 Apr 04 Saturday. Over to the Kabul Garrison in the afternoon, two Swedish officers, two translators, Gen Kalil, Gen Muhammad Ismael and two others. One and half hours (quite a change from the usual 10-15 minutes).
04 Apr 04 Sunday. Sunday routine, crepes in the mess, BGen O’Keefe visiting. Lunch in the Canadian Mess. DVDs, bought an Afghan porkpie hat and Russian Afghan service medal. Over to the German Feuchte Patrone mess. Cheese missing. Back briefing to the COS, LCol Roy etc. Op Fortress.
05 Apr 04 Monday. 07:20 on the road to ISAF HQ with Maj Purcell, WO Chris K. Buczynski, Cpl Christopher E. Johnson and a Signals Cpl. BGen Fuller running the show et al. On to Camp Julien. CSIS chat, MANPADs questions. Photos around Camp, then back to ISAF HQ downtown, narrowly missing a lady wearing a very dirty blue burka sitting dead centre in the middle of multiple lanes of traffic, and with kids flogging magazines to the passers-by. Sigs Cpl dropped off at ISAF HQ, then back to Camp Warehouse. Brigade Comd et al back in the evening. The Germans had an AC-DC band visiting which put on a really loud concert – again. DVD movie. Earthquake about 01:30 AM, lasted about a minute.
06 Apr 04 Tuesday. Over to ISAF HQ and back. DVDs, PM chat with Abdullah Parmach, DANCON.
07 Apr 04 Wednesday. Early morning phone chat with Jonathan, Faye and Sean. FR Maj Gilles Etienne departed. Coffee at 09 :30. Many sick with a stomach virus, including GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt and Capt Melissa J. Olegario. PM over to Camp Julien to visit the ASIC. Late PM stop at UK Camp Souter. MoD orders, French exercise, chat with Croatian MP Marenka at front desk. Croatian, Russian, English mix, interesting conversation, after serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
08 Apr 04 Thursday. Over to ISAF HQ, conversation with DK Abdullah Parmach. Dutch Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter shot at. More “discussions” on who does what G2 jobs. Gilbert M. McCauley noted for the KMNB log: the arrival in early Spring 2004 of the RNLAF AH Det with some 80-100 members and their 6x AH-64s. Always flying in pairs for mutual support, they were flying their allocated 180 or 190 hours per month, providing a great quick response force (often less than their 15 minutes to move status) over a large swath of complex terrain. Their contribution was well beyond the size of their contingent. They arrived well before the TU UH-60s. For the record, while the arrival of the TU small Det was somewhat chaotic, they only had 10 days notice to deploy and were unable to conduct a recce nor much coordination. One of the UH-60s was actually from their Gendarmerie while the other two were from the Army. Both NL and TU Dets had an ALO in the Air Cell, located between your J2 shop and the TOC.
GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, CA WO Chris K. Buczynski, IT WO Salvatore "Toto" Miraglia, and Maj Hal Skaarup.
09 Apr 04 Good Friday. Over to the Italian's Camp Invictia, took part in a torchlight parade, followed by a big feed with our Norwegian, Dutch, Italian and Canadian colleagues et al. PM chat with Capt Melissa J. Olegario.
10 Apr 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ, then to the Kabul Garrison in the afternoon. Maps to AF MGen Sharif, AF Gen Hamibi and AF Gen Ismael. PM, German bonfire.
11 Apr 04 Sunday. Sunday routine, chat with Marie-Paule about India.
12 Apr 04 Monday. Afternoon chat with Mandy, briefing to NGOs in the Finland Contingent at their Camp Katerina inside Camp Warehouse. Marouf brief. PM, hiccups with PUC letter. Over to the German “Wolfshoele” bar with SZ Maj Alexis Alam and gang, Mandy and two Signallers. Long chat. Walked back with Maj Dany Fortin. Meeting with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt.
13 Apr 04 Tuesday. Interview with Taj Mohammed No. 4, uncle to President Karzai – in German. Two visits to the hospital to investigate. Alert exercise, all with full kit on in the HQ hallway until late. Afghan national security officers, local police and more than 100 Canadian soldiers raided a compound in the Charar Asiab district outside Kabul, arresting six suspects of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.
14 Apr 04 Wednesday. Two Lapis Lazuli stones for Hakan’s daughters. Earthquake. FR Major Fred Miguel, Maj Mike Purcell and I brainstormed the targeting board.
(US Army Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester Photo)
15 Apr 04 Thursday. Interview with BGen Khatol Mohammad zai (born 1966), the only female General in military service in Afghanistan. She was first commissioned in the military of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan during the 1980s, when she became the first woman from the country to be trained as a paratrooper; she has since logged over 600 jumps in her career. She continued to serve in the Afghan military as an instructor until the Taliban took power in 1996. Reinstated to the military created after the US invasion in 2001, she became the first woman in Afghan history to reach general officer rank. We worked together to try and get a number of us with the KMNB Afghan wings. The jumps were vetoed.
I met her in her home in the Russian-made apartments with a translator, after traveling to the site in a two-vehicle convoy. She appeared wearing a maroon beret and full dress uniform wearing 19 medals. Very formal, most interesting introduction. She gave me a gift of men’s perfume. I gave her son a Canadian hockey puck. More to follow. The aim was to set up a joint ISAF/Afghan parachute jump, but the meeting turned into an intelligence collection interview. I asked why we were meeting in her home instead of her office, and she showed me a letter from government officials, which indicated she and her family would be killed if she interfered in affairs of state by meeting with foreigners in her office. Apparently, it was perfectly acceptable to meet with me in her home informally. Interesting meeting.
16 Apr 04 Friday. Brainstorming sessions, long day, good chat with Faye on the phone. The lapis lazuli stone I mailed to her arrived 66 days after I had sent it to her from Kabul.
17 Apr 04 Saturday. Faye’s birthday. Over to ISAF HQ with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt, then on to the Kabul Garrison HQ to meet with Gen Kalil. Visited the Swedish contingent in the evening, up on the roof to take photos, lost my marble pen. Leave discussion.
18 Apr 04 Sunday. Italian market, sapphires, bought a Russian bayonet for Sean. PM DVD. Late call from Maj Bill MacLean, meeting with BGen Lacroix, COS, G3, Maj Mike Purcell and the Irish.
UNAMA Mi-18 Hip helicopter in front of KMNB HQ.
19 Apr 04 Monday. British troops and the local police and arrested eight bad guys with suspected links to Hezb-i-Islami and al-Qaida, in a raid on a compound in central Kabul last night, good catch! 13:30 hrs to the front gate to meet Michael Bhatia and Katherine from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Spoke with them until 15:30 on the situation in Afghanistan. PM, GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt’s birthday celebrations. US Capt Hahne (Utah) vet. Croatian pizza.
Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter (Serial No. 22), mounted on pylons in front of the Afghan Air Force Station, Kabul Airport.
20 Apr 04 Tuesday. LCol H, Maj M and I attended a conference on Int questions from CJ2. Lunch at the French mess at Kabul International Airport (KAIA), stopped for a photo of the Su-17 mounted as a gate guard. PM, wargaming, rocket threat. Lots of work today, but progress made. Abdullah Shah was executed by firing squad in Kabul, marking the first sanctioned execution in the country since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Abdullah Shah was convicted of more than 20 murders. News of the execution was kept secret until the story was revealed by Amnesty International a week later.
21 Apr 04 Wednesday. Rain. Over to Camp Julien via the airport and Camp Souter using backroads, passing the Intercontinental Hotel. Crowded city streets. ASIC meeting, roads blocked, took new routes back in the dark. ISAF troops and local police arrested four suspects, three near Kabul Stadium and one in front of the Finance Ministry. Three detonators were found in the vest of the last suspect. Over a dozen other suspects were taken into custody in a raid on a home.
22 Apr 04 Thursday. LCol H sick. 08:00 hrs Comd’s update. Bought another lapis lazuli stone (shark tooth). German Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion visiting Camp Warehouse. PM, Capt M chat. Late in the evening Afghan history was made – the NDS asked us for assistance for an operation they planned (usually the other way around).
Maj Hal Skaarup, SW Maj Bengt Baldesten, FR Maj Gilles Etienne, WO Chris K. Buczynski, SP Capt Pedro Cabrera, SZ Maj Alexis Alam, squatting Capt Melissa J. Olegario, SP Capt Rocio Coron, SP NCO, paiella cooking crew.
Spanish paiella cooking crew, FR Maj Gilles Etienne, SP NCO, SP Capt Rocio Cano, SP Capt Pedro Cabrera, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, two SP in civilian clothes.
Spanish paiella cooking crew, SP Capt Rocio Coron, SP Capt Pedro Cabrera, SZ Maj Alexis Alam.
23 Apr 04 Friday. Mountains to the west snow-capped and clearer than usual. I climbed up on the Hesco bastions around our tent to view them. The NDS operation on Thursday night was very successful. Friday brainstorming session. PM with the Spaniards for “paiella” meal of shrimp, chicken and rice cooked over an open fire in a gigantic wok.
Weatherhaven tent city, note that hesco bastions fille with sand surround each one.
24 Apr 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ then to the Kabul Garrison to meet with Muhammad Ismael and the Swedes, Gazad Gul interpreted. PM, Op Corsair to seize a weapons cache in the Southwest. Faye chat, bills, DVD late.
Canadian Engineers rigging a weapons cache for destruction. The explosions were done at set times of the day (10 am, 12 noon, 1400 hrs), to keep us from going to a constant state of alert. If you heard a bang it was duck or check your watch.
25 Apr 04 Sunday. 48 new Chinese-made 107mm rockets were found southwest of Kabul, and destroyed by the Slovenian Recce team. Hot day. New steel door placed at the entrance to the office. R22eR meeting. Threat warnings increasing.
26 Apr 04 Monday. Preparations for Afghanistan’s National Day. Late night, Op Etendard I. The source went missing. On duty to 3AM. No luck in finding the source. Dutch Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters and French patrols out looking, none found.
27 Apr 04 Tuesday. Afghan National Day. Incredibly quiet. Lightning etc. Faye lost her job with the New Brunswick Health Department. Calls. Op Etendard II. Bed at 8:30 PM, duty officer woke me at 9:30 PM, worked until midnight.
28 Apr 04 Wednesday. Lots of discussions (disappearing –reappearing source). Calm for once! North of Kabul, local police arrested 16 men suspected of plotting to smuggle weapons into the capital.
29 Apr 04 Thursday. Italian Mess with Texas, IT WO Salvatore "Toto" Miraglia and WO Chris K. Buczynski. Quiet day until late PM. After a big fish, deputy to AD. Up until 2AM. Kabul police reported this week they rescued more than 17 children from child kidnappers.
30 Apr 04 Friday. The crew picked up four more bad guys, but missed Number One. Tans. Ran into one of our Sigs Cpls who had been a driver for the crew that picked up the bad guys. She burst into a breathless run-on sentence, “there I was and the four TB were marched right by me and wow etc.” Briefing to the NGOs at the Finland contingent's Camp Katerina inside Camp Warehouse. John McComber, IT MWO Alessandro Maresciallo-Capo Nichilo, etc. Mess dinner in the evening with BGen Lacroix, RSM Ouellette, DK LCol Niels Koefoed, GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt, LCol Eric Tremblay, LCol Bill Foster, Catherine Phinney (POLAD). One hour meeting and dinner. Late in the evening, operation to 2AM.
01 May 04 Saturday. May Day. Triple tasks, operations underway. Bed in the afternoon. Late in the evening tasked two Dutch Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters to fly over Afghan suspected AD sites, to perhaps rattle their cage.
02 May 04 Sunday. Three bad guys including the bomber caught. 0400 hrs, seven more caught.
03 May 04 Monday. MGen Gauthier, DG Int visit to Camp Warehouse. Farewell to SP Capt Pedro Cabrera, SW Maj Lars-Erik Bergwall and GE Capt Thorsten Broder at the German “Wolfshoele” bar, gave each a good-sized Lapis Lazuli stone (didn’t have any Int buttons left). Honour Guard for MGen Gauthier. Camp tour, lunch with the Bde Comd and staff. Multiple G2 conversations. Productive, but one very wrong conversation. Sent the Dutch Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters out again. Full Moon.
04 May 04 Tuesday. Dawn morning light, bright clear day. Short break, lunch at the Canadian Mess after a most interesting chat with MCpl Angel – she was in tears over Mel Gibson’s movie about Christ. General chat, introduced her to Marie Paul. First photo in tans. No 5PM update. Over to supper with WO Chris K. Buczynski and TU Capt Hakan Aydin. Easter Bunny arrived, more goodies. PM, DVD. Very bright full Moon out. Early to bed. Jailbreak downtown, but not our problem.
05 May 04 Wednesday. Brainstorming question. Invited to the Finland contingent’s sauna at Camp Katerina inside Camp Warehouse, with most of the G2 crew, FI, GE, SP, FR, CA, NE, SW et al. Tried the Finlander's climbing wall for the first time. Great fun! One of the handholds rolled 180° on me at the top, otherwise OK. Fine evening, good food, and toasts. Over to the Spanish bar, conversation with the Swedes and Finns. Clear full moon. Astronomer’s brief to a small signaller. Chat with the G3. Crash.
06 May 04 Thursday. 07:30, funeral service for a member of 5e Bde who died back at CFB Valcartier. Mullah meeting at Camp Warehouse. PM, Romanian evening with sausage, chicken, beer and good company. Rain. Later in the evening, TGE Capt Thorsten Broder’s farewell at the Feuchte Patrone. More good company.
07 May 04 Friday. Trident newspaper in Halifax did a three-page article from my journal. Certificate to GE Capt Thorsten Broder, he flew out today. WO Chris K. Buczynski prepared to go. PM, three separate brainstorming sessions. Croatian pizza with the HQ gang. Simon back from South Africa, Marie back from Vietnam and Melanie back from the Maldives Islands. Lots of rain today!
08 May 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ, then on to the Kabul Garrison with GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt. Met with four Afghan Generals again, Professor translator and SW Maj. Second article on Kabul sent to Trident. PM, DVD.
09 May 04 Sunday. Sunday Routine, income tax done. Mother’s Day calls. Late work. Two foreigners (both about 30 years old and wearing Afghan clothes) were found dead in a park in west Kabul. One had been beaten with bricks or stones; the other had been strangled. One of the foreigners was carrying a Swiss passport.
10 May 04 Monday. Lots of work. PM, Country and Western Rock Band, fair.
Nomad camp between Kabul and Bagram.
11 May 04 Tuesday. Sudden requirement to go to Bagram. LCol H came barrelling in first thing in the morning and ordered me to grab my kit (taking his place) and to get down to a vehicle waiting to take me to Bagram for a conference with the US. I slapped my flak jacket and helmet on over my pistol and we were on the road north ay 09:10. At 09:35 AM, Camp Warehouse was hit dead centre by a 107-mm BM-12 rocket, which landed close to the water tower near our office. TU Capt Hakan Aydin was nearby and he was knocked to the ground by the blast wave. Flying shrapnel injured one German soldier. Clearly I was not meant to be there. Interesting trip up Bottle Route. Camels, (dromedaries), sheep, goats tended by Nomads with black tents in the middle of nowhere. G2 briefings, LCol Bill Foster, Simon et al. Back via Horseshoe Route, lots of irrigation and green (for Afghanistan). PM with the Swedes.
Nomad camp between Kabul and Bagram.
12 May 04 Wednesday. G2 chat. Over to Camp Julien for a meeting with the ASIC crew. 31°C. A 17-year-old Afghan man was killed and another injured when their motorcycle with three people aboard struck a trailer towed by a Canadian army truck. The motorcycle attempted to pass a convoy of Canadian military vehicles headed for the airport.
This rocket strike injured one of our Turkish Int analysts, TU Capt Hakan Aydin.
13 May 04 Thursday. 32.5°C, hot day. Visited Hakan in the German hospital. Spoke with two Afghan patients on the way out. Many taskings, very tired! Visited the site of the rocket strike, located between the Bulgarian and German tent lines.
14 May 04 Friday. Hakan back on duty, but still not well. Operations on, then one off, one on in the morning.
Kabul Garrison, Afghan Gen Qadir, Swedish LNO/translator, Maj Skaarup, and Afghan Gen in charge of police.
15 May 04 Saturday. Bright and hazy, as it nearly always is here in the morning. Short notice run to ISAF HQ, lunch with Col Labbé, over to Kabul Garrison to meet with three Generals, two Swedes, and translator for an hour and a half. Photo, back to ISAF HQ. Dust storm and delay/detour. Long bumpy drive west, zigzagging through mud-walled streets. Kids waving, then back on the route Northeast. Rain and dust. Six reports, INTSUM and PDR done, plus UNCLAS KG report and still more work. PM with the Spaniards.
The dust was constant. These dust devils would whip up around you in an instant, cover you with all the gunk they collect and leave you with an awful taste in your mouth and a desperate need to get it cleaned off.
Lapis Lazuli. It is a deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense colour. The stone is comprized of blue lazurite (25 to 40%), blue sodalite, and metallic yellow pyrite and other minerals. It is usually found in crystalline marble. The intense blue colour is due to the presence of the trisulfur radical anion (S3) in the crystal. This particular lapis lazuli was found in limestone in the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan's Kochka River Valley, Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, where the Sar-e-San mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years.
16 May 04 Sunday. Crepes. Picked up the polished Lapis Lazuli, and reviewed the stones. Lots of work. PM visit with Hakan. Laundry. Phone. Cool evening. 5 PDRs.
Camp Dracula, Romanian ABC-79M APC, Romanian Major, WO Chris K. Buczynski, Maj Hal Skaarup, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, SP Major, Finland Officer, IT WO Mauro Corradi.
Romanian ABC-79M (4x4) (amfibiu blindat pentru cercetare) armoured personnel carrier, developed in Romania. The APC uses some automotive components of the TAB-77 (8 × 8) APC.
Romanian ABC-79M (4x4) (amfibiu blindat pentru cercetare) armoured personnel carrier, developed in Romania. The APC uses some automotive components of the TAB-77 (8 × 8) APC.
17 May 04 Monday. Another very hot day, slowing things down. RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc’s birthday. PM at Romanian Camp Dracula with the G2 crew. Cognac.
LAV III, Camp Warehouse, spring 2004.
18 May 04 Tuesday. Departure Assistance Group (DAG) meeting. Coffee, Spanish medals parade, photos, and big lunch. More DAG activity. Japanese and Indonesian representatives. SP Capt Pedro Cabrera and SP Capt Rocio Cano said goodbye. Lots of work. Helmet, flak jacket and blue TU bottle back packing. Clear evening.
19 May 04 Wednesday. Turned in my pistol and magazines for safekeeping while I am on leave, checked in at the office, coffee with the G2 Section, then back to the tent. Moved barrack box and kit bag to the Bison AFV. Issued a rifle for departure to KAIA. Inspection, delays, sandstorm. Spoke with Princess and Christian (GE) – their flights didn’t go. Capt Melissa J. Olegario came in on the same Hercules that we flew out on. Spoke with Maj Marianne LeBeau, PSO. More sandstorm weather caused delays, the Hercules lifted off late. 4-½ hour flight to Dubai and Camp Mirage. Very warm. Five minute walk around a very small camp. Air conditioning muchly appreciated. Movies, phone calls, shower and bed.
20 May 04 Thursday. Warm early in the morning, bus trip to Dubai. Toured the Gold Souk and city shopping centres. Bought grey track pants. On the beach, in the water for 1-½ hrs, very warm, sunburn. Temperature hot at 44°C in camp. Spoke with Capt Gary Hayes and Maj Marie-Ann. Turned in helmet, flak jacket and uniform in kitbags at 1900 hrs for storage. 21:00 hrs to the airport zoo.
21 May 04 Friday. 01:55 hrs, 7 ½ hr flight on an Airbus A340-300 from Dubai to Frankfurt, 7 hrs on a B747-400C to Montreal, two hours on a Bombardier Dash 8-100 to Fredericton, arrived at 16:00 local. Faye gorgeous – home!
23 May 04 Sunday. KMNB lost a Norwegians soldier, Tommy Roedningsby, and had another wounded during an RPG-7 rocket attack on one of their convoys on the Jalabad Road, while I was on leave. LGen Rick Hiller said, "we grieve for your son and we will remember him with respect for the impact that he had in this devastated country".
26 May 04 Wednesday. Interim Afghan president Hamid Karzai enacted an election law that requires both presidential and parliamentary elections to be held through free, general, secret and direct voting. To win the race, a presidential candidate needs at least 50 percent of the vote . A presidential candidate is required to gather 10,000 voters backing the bid.
10 Jun 04 Thursday. The leave was wonderful, but then it came time to go back to Kabul. 10AM walk along the river, nice morning with Faye and Chloe. 12AM Bombardier Dash 8-300 flight to Montreal. Downtown for a walk along St Catherine Street, McLaren Mercedes photo, bus back to airport. 7 hr B747-400C flight to Frankfurt, Germany.
11 Jun 04 Friday. Frankfurt, 7 hr A340-300 flight to Dubai, arrived 21:30 hrs. 44°C, bus to camp.
12 Jun 04 Saturday. 03:00 hrs, kit inspection, 05:00 hrs depart site for 05:45 hrs Hercules flight, 4-½ hrs to Kabul. Noon, hot, Bison transport back to Camp Warehouse, redrew my pistol, filed claim, picked up kit, laundry. Over to the G2 shop, immediate crisis management situation (security situation) with RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc. Sigs Officer chat, crisis averted. Back in the saddle fast. Our RO LCol Lucian Vasile was newly promoted. E-mail, chats, talks. Discussions, shower and bed at 9PM.
3 Jun 04 Sunday. Hot at 07:30 AM. Notes and kit. Busy afternoon. Jingle trucks from Pakistan began honking their horns to gain entry to the city before the sun came up.
14 Jun 04 Monday. 36°C. Over to ISAF HQ. Lost the front bumper of our vehicle en route (new driver). Good to be back. Late night, 11:30 PM shower interrupted. Extra patrols out looking for MGen Junbesh, not back to bed until 02:30.
Officers of the Kabul Multi-National Brigade (KMNB), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Kabul, Afghanistan. BGen Jocelyn LaCroix (5e GBMC) commanding, 2004.
1. Maj Steph Dumas (retired Col) 2. Mai Dany Hétu 3. Maj (Padre) Maurice Frenette 4. Maj (now Col) Martin Laflamme 5. Maj (now Col) Bill Foster 6. LCol Dan Meilleur 7. Col Richard Giguère (ret BGen) 8. Maj Dany Fortin (later Comd 1 Cdn Div until summer 2020. Became COS CJOC then Vaccines lead at PHAC) 9. German DComd Col Mayer 10. Maj (now MGen) Simon Bernard 11. BGen Jocelyn Lacroix 12. Maj Hal Skaarup 13. CWO Ouellet 14. Maj (now BGen) Andre Demers 15. LCol Luc (CO Sigs Sqn) 16. Maj André Berdais (PAO) 17. LCol Éric Tremblay (ret MGen) 18. Public Affairs Officer.
15 Jun 04 Tuesday. Brigade HQ team photo. Traffic jam on the way to ISAF HQ. A rocket landed in the Kabul Garrison compound near the ISAF boundary, one of the Afghan NDS soldiers was hurt in the blast. Late night, Duty Officer.
16 Jun 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ, briefings with LGen Rick Hillier. Bernard, Norwegian replacement Hilde. Visit with AC CI Carl and Fred. Lunch with BGen Jocelyn Lacroix. PM DVDs, midnight reports. Cool.
17 Jun 04 Thursday. Christian back. Over to ISAF HQ. Hot again. PM, Dutch beer and farewell, flares and UFO stories, outdoors behind HQ. Phone calls interrupted.
18 Jun 04 Friday. O Gp with COS at 07:30, Commander’s update at 08:00, coffee, O Gp at 09:30. Sports afternoon, volleyball, great fun, but very hot. BBQ in the evening, outdoor movie (en Française) at the mess, phone calls OK. Had the runs most of the night, perhaps too much fruit and liquid. Windy. Aquila, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra, Bootes, Milky Way brilliantly clear in the night sky.
19 Jun 04 Saturday. Over to ISAF HQ. Still have the runs, not well. LGen Hillier, BGen Lacroix, Catherine Phinney, CSM, BGen Fuller et al, quite the high-priced crowd in attendance. Hot again. Afternoon visit with three Afghan Generals at Kabul Garrison, along with Maj Fred Miguel, Akbar (translator), two Swedes. They were chatty, stayed 1 ½ hrs. PM dust storm. Totomobile. University Professor chat.
Norwegian CV-90-30, Norwegian Camp, ISAF, Kabul.
Maj Hal Skaarup, SW Capt, WO Chris K. Buczynski, GE Capt Christian Detloff, UK NCO, in front of a Norwegian CV-90-30, Norwegian Camp, ISAF, Kabul.
20 Jun 04 Saturday. Very windy morning. Hot and extremely windy dust storms all day. Three-vehicle convoy to the Norwegian Camp. Thomas had a dozen of us over for breakfast Norwegian-style. Then he and Hilde gave us a tour of their Intelligence set-up. Afternoon brainstorming session. PM stargazing, observed Deneb, Altair, Cygnus, Corona etc. Three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at an electoral office near Kabul.
21 Jun 04 Monday. Clear, bright morning. Over to ISAF HQ, BGen Fuller et al. Runs. Coffee. Early run with new drivers to Kabul Garrison, 20 plus Afghan officers in attendance for a long review. Workload way up. PM supper with Lane, Janine et al. Canadian University professors visiting KMNB. Late evening interview on Intelligence in Afghanistan. More work, RO LCol Lucian Vasile, NE Capt Carlo Swens and Hakan report.
22 Jun 04 Tuesday. Feeling better. Over to ISAF HQ, OJ at the HQ café. Back to Camp Warehouse in time for a briefing on another bandit, with US and UK representatives. Slow going. Totomobile to lunch. Briefed NGOs in the Finland contingent's lines at Camp Katerina inside Camp Warehouse. PM, BBQ with the HQ crew, farewell for LCol Dan Meilleur. IT WO Salvatore "Toto" Miraglia gave each of the Canadian G2 staff an Italian Plaque. Lots of paperwork. Interview with the CO of the Italian NIC. Star watch. PM, Pearl Harbor and Oak Island chat with Eric, Melanie and Marie Christine tout en Française.
23 Jun 04 Wednesday. Flying axe handle trips through the night. Over to ISAF HQ. MIR, pepto bismol. Down for the count. Warm day.
24 Jun 04 Thursday. Feeling better after a good sleep. Over to ISAF HQ. Busy day. COS chat, had my heels together to explain why WO Chris K. Buczynski and Cpl Christopher E. Johnson were sleeping in the Italian/Turk/Romanian tent lines instead of the French Canadian lines. We had the Camp Commandant’s permission, but the COS had me write a memo for his signature granting formal authority from the Canadian Contingent for them to be there. IER with TU Hakan and NE Capt Carlo Swens. Carlo flew back to the Netherlands, left me a nice Dutch shoe souvenir key chain. Thomas left me the Norwegian Viking flag that had flown over his Int Section, and a pin. Hungarian and Czech representatives to the S2 briefing. PM, Pizza with IT WO Mauro Corradi, Chris and Chris. DVD. Star watch.25 Jun 04 Friday. Bright morning (every day now), 100%. Command brief on double threat. Discussion. SWENIC six-man visit, coffee, new French CCIRM Major brief. Brainstorming, IERs, 16:15 hrs brief. PM, Bandit briefing to Norwegians, Belgian, US, French and legal crew. Pictures etc. Over to the Danish contingent, WO Chris K. Buczynski, IT, FR, SWE, GE, Diane. ¼ Moon, early turn in.
26 Jun 04 Saturday. 07:00 at the office. 10:30 hrs, coloured fruit versus orange debate. Coffee with G2 crew. IER Thomas. Lunch on the patio. Kabul Garrison, three Generals, 1 ½ hr discussion. PM meeting with DK Abdullah Parmach, Danish LCdr, and GE Dr Erike, good chat. 8PM back to work, new bandit task, Norwegians out, waiting. Up until 1AM. Waterfall, Anne Legal O. BGen Lacroix and crew, briefing en Française, clear night. Lots of paperwork underway.
Meeting the curator of the King's tomb.
27 Jun 04 Sunday. Warm in the tent, had to be up by 07:30 or be cooked. Crepes. Walked around the camp. Rewrote papers for COS. Over to the GE section. DVD. 12:30 GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, FR Maj Fred Miguel and FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé and I headed off in a French jeep to KAIA airport, where we picked up a French – Afghan translator. On through the city and up to the King’s Tomb. Guided tour, shook hands with one of the curators. Down to the Air Museum, photos of MiG-17, Hind A, AN-2 Colt biplane, Yak-3, Il-18 Beagle, wreckage of several other aircraft, SA-3 Guideline missile, Frog-7 missile.
Mil Mi-24A Hind Helicopter.
Antonov AN-2 Colt (Serial No. 224).
Yakovlev Yak-11 Moose (Serial No. 35).
On to the Olympic Stadium, past the Great Mosque, and back to tour the Archaeological Museum. Great stone bowl, introduced to the curator and docints. Up to the main grounds of Daraluman Palace. Zigzag through the northern streets to Kabul University, stopped in to tour the Intercontinental Hotel, short tour. Toured a castle east of the hotel. Over to the Presidential Palace, closed. Back to Camp Warehouse. PM, Finland contingent's sauna, Camp Katerina inside Camp Warehouse. Huge multinational outdoor food fest. German music, Laura and Christine, Capt Melissa J. Olegario chairing the group, loud music, good food, people throwing chemical lights in the air.
FR Maj Fred Miguel, Maj Hal Skaarup, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, and GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, King's tomb, Kabul.
Great stone bowl in the National Museum of Afghanstan, southwest corner of Kabul. The bowl is 1.75 metres (5.7 feet) in diameter, with an 18-cm thick rime and weights about 400 kilograms. It was moved to Kandahar province of Afghanistan after it was taken to Peshawar city by a king who was ruling the northern India and other parts of Asia in the second century. There is a Persian inscription all around the big bowl in 6 lines. It is believed to have been presented by the Buddha in the sixth century BC to the people of Vaishali, a town in the present-day Indian state of Bihar, which borders Bengal. The bowl was kept in a monastery and farmers would offer the first fruits of the season in the bowl. Chinese travellers Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang who visited India to study Buddhism over the next few centuries mention the giant bowl, which had gathered many legends around it by this time. They have also made a mention of this giant bowl which has many mythological stories revolving around its origin.
In the first century A.D, Kanishka, who ruled the Kushan empire spread over present-day northwest India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, attacked the region of Vaishali. The story goes that Kanishka, a Buddhist himself, agreed to spare his rival's kingdom only after he was offered the bowl and the famous scholar Ashvagosha. Several accounts of Chinese pilgrims report that the bowl was in Kanishka's capital from the 3rd to 9th centuries A.D. As Islam replaced Buddhism as the dominant religion in this area, the bowl was placed in the Jamia Mosque in Kandahar and used for storing water and wazu or the practice of washing one's hands and feet before offering namaz or prayer. When the Taliban came to power, the bowl was spared from their destruction of various artifacts because of a few Quranic verses inscribed upon it, probably during the 11th century A.D during Mahmud of Ghazni's time.
28 Jun 04 Monday. Over to ISAF HQ. Capt Chris Pelletier discussion, Jack pics. BGen Lacroix briefed me on his reasons for the GE G2 choice. Eric, table! COS, DComd chat on brief. Accommodation memo, Chris and Chris, COS OK, MWO Carter, MCpl Grandchamps (compassionate leave pass etc). COS, G1, MCpl G cleared to fly next morning. FI Lauri Yli-Perttula IER, two Norwegian visitors, light chat on threat, second draft of brief, chasing the party line. Afghan elections. Crashing with section. PM, Fred’s pin and farewell at the Sunshine Bar. Pics, walk, ½ Moon, L and C chat.
29 Jun 04 Tuesday. Over to ISAF HQ, LCol Rob Williams and chat with POLAD, fluorite discussion. Back to KMNB HQ. Cpl Mackenzie chat, Norway LNO chat, presentation to Fred, WO Chris Buczynski, COS PER. PM, DAG brief. COS. French movie. Slight overcast.
30 Jun 04 Wednesday. Over to ISAF HQ, spoke with Perry and Jim Price, and then back to Camp Warehouse. Spanish camp, Afghan haircut. G2 Section chat. Commander’s commendation to RO LCol Lucian Vasile, followed by a group photo. Lunch with BGen Nordick (served with him in 4CMBG in 1982), and Maj Mike Beauvais, the Brigade Commander, COS, DCOS, RSM and I, 2 PM to 18:20 PM meeting and briefings. FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, Capt Dave Buchanan and I, lunch crew, WO Buczynski, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, Capt Alain Chabot. Very productive meetings. Detailed discussions on Intelligence in Afghanistan. PM, Croatian Pizza with four Canadians, over to the German Engineer Mess with Lucien and all of us. PM A chat. WO Chris K. Buczynski, PER OK with COS. A good day.
01 Jul 04 Thursday. Canada Day. BGen Lacroix held a parade at 07:15. Slow and very hot day, 36°C+, coffee group, chat with Mike Purcell in the shelter. PM, Lobster pack, M badge. Manuel’s report. DVDs. PM Mackenzie chat.
G2 Assessments Section, Camp Warehouse.
Rear row: CA, SP, IT WO Mauro Corradi, CA WO Chris Buczynski, CA Capt Melissa Olegario, CACpl Chris Johnson, TU Capt Hakan Aydin, CA Capt Steve Burbridge.
Middle row: CA, CA, NE Lt Mathijs Kniff, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc, FI Capt Lauri Yli-Perttuli, CA, FR.
Seated: RO Maj Lucian Vasile, GE Marcel Brabant, CA Maj Hal Skaarup, GE Capt Christian Detloff, SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli.
The G2 crew and GE HQ staff, 2 July 2004.
Rear row, standing: GE, CA, SP, IT WO Mauro Corradi, CA WO Chris Buczynski, CA Capt Melissa Olegario, CACpl Chris Johnson, TU Capt Hakan Aydin, CA Capt Steve Burbridge, GE.
3rd row, standing: GE, CA, CA, NE Lt Mathijs Kniff, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc, FI Capt Lauri Yli-Perttuli, CA, GE.
2nd row, seated: RO Maj Lucian Vasile, GE Marcel Brabant, CA Maj Hal Skaarup, GE Capt Christian Detloff, SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli, FR, GE.
Front row, kneeling: GE, GE, GE, GE.
02 Jul 04 Friday. Walked to work with BGen Lacroix, good chat! Warm early. 08:00 update, 09:30 COS meeting, lunch, walk, supper, Totomobile with COS. 3PM good brainstorming session. 5PM update. Our NE Lt Mathijs Kniff was promoted to Capt. DVDs, long INTSUM. German torchlight parade.
Kabul Garrison, Gen Safi, Maj Skaarup, Gen Hamidi, Gen Qadir.
03 Jul 04 Saturday. Op Clown. Three Spaniards departing. Kabul Garrison photo. 1 ½ hrs with the Afghans. WO Chris K. Buczynski chat. DVDs. Very windy, sandy eyebrows, 36°C again.
IT WO Mauro Corradi, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, Maj Hal Skaarup, IT NCO.
04 Jul 04 Sunday. Hot early, DVDs, 11:30 with IT WO Mauro Corradi to the Italian Camp and Afghan Market with Capt Melissa J. Olegario. Lunch in the Italian mess. Pizza with the team. Op Clown and Op Cirque brainstorming session. Windy, quiet. German Dr Elke Stanek and US Med/Int pers dropped in for a visit. ASIC visitors. Lots of work.
05 Jul 04 Monday. 08:00 O Gp, 09:30 presented GE Capt Christian Detloff with his NATO medal and certificate, as well as an Int Branch pin. G2 group photo. Afternoon meeting at the Kabul Garrison, Noor translating with 16 plus Afghan Generals and a delegation of civilian officials from Surobi. Meeting lasted 1-½ hrs, very hot. PM working on projects. Early crash. Very windy and dusty – normal. The “Clown”, Jonathan Idema, one of three Americans and four Afghans, was arrested in the Karteh Parwan district of Kabul, after the police raided his illegal jail (two prisoners were found hanging upside down), about 20:30 hrs that evening. Unfortunately, a few of the Clown's prisoners were let go, and later were noted to have been on the list of suspects that ISAF forces should have picked up. Wretched conversation later between myself and the Kabul Garrison police - they wanted to know why we let them go. (We thought they were working for the Afghans, the Afghans thought the Clown was working for us).
Jonathan Keith "Jack" Idema (May 30, 1956 – January 21, 2012) was a former U.S. Army reserve special operations non-commissioned officer. In September 2004 he was found guilty of running a private prison in Afghanistan and torturing Afghan citizens. At the time, Idema had been portraying himself as a US government-sponsored special forces operative on a mission to apprehend terrorists. However, the U.S. government has repeatedly denied most of such claims. Idema served three years of a ten-year sentence. He was released early by Afghanistan's then-president Hamid Karzai in April 2007, departing Afghanistan in early June. Idema died of AIDS in Mexico in late January 2012.
06 Jul 04 Tuesday. Briefing on Op Clown. Lots of visitors. Bought a Burka, lapis lazuli. German Mess. Worked on ODL, indexing. PM, GE Maj Christian Detloff’s send-off at the German Engineer Mess. Deep chat with the team. Star watch. Chats with Capt Melissa J. Olegario and Capt Alain Berdais (ex-Int Officer, now a PAFFO). Laundry.
Wiesel Armoured Weapons Carrier (AWC) used to guard the perimeter of Camp Warehouse. It is a German light air-transportable armoured fighting vehicle (AFV). It is quite similar to historical scouting tankettes in size, form and function, and is the only true modern tankette in use in Western Europe.
ATF Dingo German heavily armored infantry mobility vehicle at Camp Warehouse. The Dingo is designed to withstand land mines, rifle fire, artillery fragments and NBC threats. ATF stands for Allschutz-Transport-Fahrzeug, meaning all-protected transport vehicle. I t is named after the Australian native dog, the dingo.
SAM-7 Grail, Soviet-built, shoulder-launched, surface-to-air missile. The Grail was developed in 1959 and deployed in combat in 1968. The SAM-7 is used to force low-flying aircraft (under about 2,300 meters) into higher altitudes where radar can detect them. We considered these SAMs to be the number one threat to KMNB, but when they were found, they were often so old and corroded and with dead batteries, they would not have functioned. The Afghan Warlords and Taliban, however, believed we considered them to be dangerous, and as a bargaining chip, would trade them around with different groups. We would check the serial numbers and discover who had held them previously, and learned a number of them had worked their way through several hostile agencies.
07 Jul 04 Wednesday. 08:00, questions concerning shoulder-launched surface to air missiles (SAMs). 10:30 meeting with two German LCols, interesting discussion (“we know you are a Canadian LCol pretending to be a Major,” etc). German Mess for lunch. 1300 hrs, CROP IV conference. 15:00 hrs, SAN question to the S2s. 18:00 hrs chat with GE Capt Olaf Gartlich and FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé. Three of us on the road to the Presidential Palace downtown Kabul to meet with the US Guards and with Larry Salmon, US Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and head of the Karzai Protective Operation, to discuss Op Bastion. Ancient round towers with angled cannon loopholes in them on the corners of the palace. Evening drive back, supper at the Drop Zone, more work. DVD.
08 Jul 04 Thursday. Got the runs again. Hate the dust. Enough already! Plus 37°C. 08:00 tasks, 09:30 COS meeting. Indexing. Long meetings all day. PM chat with Dr Stanek and LCol Niels Koefoed outside the Sunshine bar 8-9PM, then over to the German Engineer Club with the new Romanian crew and G2 staff from 9-10 PM, then over to meet with Anders and the Swedish NIC crew, 10-11PM, late night chat. Laundry, crash.
09 Jul 04 Friday. 07:15 discussion with MP Maj Marc LaFlamme. 08:00 Rocket surprise in Balkh province north of us. Task Force Kabul (TFK), Comd KMNB chase, coffee. More IERs. Blue rocket runs. Brainstorming. Indexing ODL. Clear starry night.
10 Jul 04 Saturday. Update on MANPADs, farewell to our two Romanians, RO Maj Lucian Vasile and RO Capt Mihai Calinciuc. Afternoon, two hours with three Afghans, Pat, Akbar and CO of SWECON (LCol). 5 PM update, 6 PM with the Croatian Contingent for pizza and juice. Tired, worked late.
Croatian Army working dogs, Camp Warehouse.
11 Jul 04 Sunday. Changed uniforms back to relish green. Hibernated in the office, worked on ODL, indexing letters from WO Grant Oliver and LCol Dave Wiens. Totomobile to supper. CO SWECON (LCol) visit. Group think on the Saturday visit to Kabul Garrison. Newcomers, two Romanians one Turk and one from the Netherlands.
12 Jul 04 Monday. 0800 OGp, 0930 coffee group in the German lines. 1330 hrs, Kabul Garrison, 14 Afghan Generals (mostly police). Helicopter story. PM indexing ODL, laundry.
13 Jul 04 Tuesday. 0400 Exercise Alert. Long, long, very long warbling siren. Dressed, took Bison transport to HQ, work. 0800, BGen Lacroix presented his staff and I with the KMNB Commander’s Coin! Breakfast in the Canadian kitchen to 0830, COS brief, turned in tans. Pay office. Packing up. Late night questions from NE Capt Matthijss, reference a helicopter incident. Three operations in progress.
14 Jul 04 Wednesday. DAG. Hot morning, but it later clouded over and cooled a bit. GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt back and in his usual fine form. Completed seven Intermediate Evaluation Reports (IERs). G2 crew to Camp Julien and back. Work.
15 Jul 04 Thursday. Rain! Earthquake about 12:45 hrs, during lunch. The quake was centred in the Hindu Kush to the north of us, and registered 5.3 on the Richter scale. 0930 coffee. Stone repair. New S-2 officers from Norway, Capt Ingeborg and Capt Hilde. Our new Chief CCIRM will be Norwegian, and FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé will move to the analyst cell. COS signed my PER (positive). 4 PM parade for HQ staff in cool and comfortable air. 2015 hrs, spoke with Croatian MP, Sgt M.
16 Jul 04 Friday. Late wakeup, strolled with Mike to work. German Int General visited with the G2 Section at 0900 hrs, 0930 hrs with the COS update, 1030 with COS & I, PER, 1045 passed in seven IERs, 1100 – 1130 hrs meeting with Dr E. Stanek, DAG, HQ & Sigs Orderly Room. 3 PM weapons cache brainstorm with S-2 officers. PM Croatian pizza with the gang.
DK LCol Niels Koefoed and DK Abdallah Parmach. GE Dr E. Stanek farewell at DANCON with IR Maj Dignam.
17 Jul 04 Saturday. Cool, partly cloudy. 0930 Brainstorming. Certificates to the Int crew. GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt on form. G2 group photo. 1320 hrs visit with three Afghan Generals at Kabul Garrison. Two hours, Pat, translator. Wide discussion from Bush and Kerry to routine activities in around Kabul. New Norwegian Captain reported in, along with a new Turkish Lt. Lots of questions all around. PM indexing ODL. Visited the Swedish contingent – campfire, always welcome. Phones down.
We had a team of 27 people from 14 different countries in the G2 shop. A few of them here.
SW Elias Tapper, IT WO Mauro Corradi, NE Lt Mathijs Kniff, SP Emmanuel Lopez, GE Capt Olaf Gartlich, FI Juha Rintalla,
CA Capt Melissa J. Olegario, TU Latif Oygur, RO Justin Baluta, SW Capt Patrick Olmerud, NO Paal, GE Marcel Brabant.
TU Hakan Aydin, RO Trifu, CA Maj Hal Skaarup, GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt, FR Maj Hervé Spaenlé, CA WO Chris K. Buczynski. CA Cpl Christopher E. Johnson with sunglasses behind Latif.
German G2 medals parade for GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt, 18 July 2004.
18 Jul 04 Sunday. Cool and windy but clear morning, slept in until 8AM. Walked around the German Camp lines. Worked on ODL most of the morning. Maj Frank Deiner from Germany, who is to be my replacement as G2 Chief Assessments; and LCol J. Lorget from France who is to the be new KMNB G2 dropped in to chat. Lots of newbies. PM at SWECON and then attended the final parade for the German G2 medals parade. GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt presented me with a German plate with 16 German state crests and a thank you note on the back. I gave him the Int Branch “microphone” pin. BGen Lacroix and Col Maier gave him his NATO and German service medals for Afghanistan. Back to work, just as another rocket landed near ISAF HQ, and a possible mortar round came down near KAIA about 11 PM.
BGen Jocelyn Lacroix and GE Col Maier staff at GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt's medal parade, 18 July 2004.
19 Jul 04 Monday. Clear view of the mountains to the west, unusual with the normal haze. LCol T.B. and Capt S.B. brainstorm presentation at 0930 coffee. My notebook "disappeared". Brigade Comd Shark joke and update. PM with CA Capt André Berdais. CA MCpl Mandy Mackenzie venting. Windy and cool. Indexing late.
20 Jul 04 Tuesday. Farewell to SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli at the German Engineer Club 0930-1030, pins exchanged. GE LCol Johannes Hellenschmidt said goodbye. Said he wished he could have made me a LCol. Totomobile to supper. Two rockets landed at 10PM. Op Heinkel underway until 0130 hrs Wed morning.
21 Jul 04 Wednesday. FR LCol Jack Lorget officially the new G2. He requested I keep doing the job “for a while yet.” Maj Frank Deiner still “reading in.” Pegasus star watch. Wed Morning 0800 update. Lapis lazuli stone to Mike, 1530 hrs to Camp Julien ASIC meeting with CA Capt Alain Chabot, CA Greg Astles (CSIS), CA WO Kevin Toomer (Barry’s son), Mine Assistance Team visiting, NO Capt Paul along. CA Maj Marie Ann LeBeau and CA Marie Paul were both in Camp, good chat! PM, Capt Melissa J. Olegario, with more carpets, chat. Late chat on the phone with Faye and Sean!
22 Jul 04 Thursday. 0800 with LCol Lorget, 0900 G2/G3 briefing, two hours with Maj Dany Fortin and newbies. Brought LCol Lorget to the German Mess. Dusty. Totomobile to supper. Long day, indexing late. Teaching/training both the G2 and the Deputy G2, visitors all day.
23 Jul 04 Friday. Parade 0715 hrs. Reintegration briefing to HQ & SIS by the COS. 1-½ hr briefing to GE BGen Spinder with G3 and G2. Multiple threat warnings. Route Violet Red. PM, CA Capt André Beauvais, G3, visit to the Engineer Club for SZ LCol Thomas Beccarelli farewell. Smoked one of his twisted Swiss cigars with him – didn’t feel too good afterwards, very green around the gills. ISAF HQ late call, reference route closure.
24 Jul 04 Saturday. 0800 meeting with LCol Lorget, followed by another meeting at 0830. Long day, brainstorming the Fahim Kahn situation, Violet Route being “Red” and briefing the staff – Cirque de Soleil. Phone KMNB contact, German question from the JOC.
My Afghan carpet, purchased in the Camp Warehouse market.
25 Jul 04 Sunday. 0800 Briefing, 0830-0930 OGp. Brainstorm crisis to 1100. Short pass through market, Afghan stamps. Crisis briefing at 1600, late to 5PM update, supper, 1900 brainstorm on action plan. Worked late on index. Good chat with incoming Norwegian KMNB Deputy Commander, G2 and crew. Crash.
26 Jul 04 Monday. 0730 briefing with LCol Lorget in the G2 chair. SA-14 shoulder-launched surface to air missile found north of KAIA. More briefings. Kabul Garrison with incoming Norwegian Brigade DComd. Took the north route above KAIA. Farewell to MGen Sharif, BGen Qadir and BGen Hamidi, Swedish LNOs etc. South route back to camp via the Kings Tomb, rock road to SE of Camp. Way ahead Kafuffle – sudden jump – rumour of war –“putting a lid on it” – kudos to the G2 family from the Comd and COS. Late briefings, eyes burning, long day past, long day ahead. A wing of the Jamhuriat Hospital near central Kabul, collapsed, killing four and injuring 26. It was being rebuilt by a Chinese-Afghan construction consortium.
27 Jul 04 Tuesday. 0500, Cpl Christopher E. Johnson preparing to head back to Canada. Over to ISAF HQ at 0720, morning discussions on how things “got out of hand” for an hour or two on single source false reporting and how to prevent a re-occurrence. US Army BGen Fuller invited me to join him as he presented medals to four Polish officers. Odd remarks. North around the airfield. Handovers. During the run to ISAF HQ, noticed a bunch of kids selling long stringy yellow vegetables of some kind. I thought they were holding up rubber snakes. Said farewell to UK Capt PJ, then back to KMNB HQ about 0930 in time for German breakfast (Fruhstuck) at the Feuchte Patrone. Office, ammo, back to tent, packed some more, barrack box to CMTT, paperwork. 39°C. Saved ODL just before the DWAN was removed! Medical signatures. Care package. Back to the office and air conditioning. 3PM update, chocolates. WO Chris K. Buczynski about to head out. Totomobile, last out clearances, HQ & Sigs Sqn paperwork. 5PM update. 1745 parade, Change of Command from BGen Lacroix to GE BGen Spindler, LGen Hillier presiding with AF LGen Salangi, AF MGen Sharif, AF Col Amon, AF Engineer Amin, NATO Ambassador, AF Gen Babajan, Canadian Deputy Ambassador (chat) in attendance. Back to the office to prepare kit. Swedish LNO threat warnings. German and French JOC coaching session. Afghan interim president Hamid Karzai formally declared his candidacy for the 9 Oct 2004 presidential elections. He dropped from his ticket Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim (who was none too happy about it), and replaced him with Ahmad Zia Massood. Karzai named Karim Khalili as his choice for second vice president.
8 PM The Swedes had asked me to speak about our First Nations traditions, and based on what I had learned from Ala'huappa, I put on a small presentation around the Swedish Contingent’s campfire. I had a CD playing some Shamanic drumming, and distributed 15 feathers, one to each participant, and passed around the bear claw. I read from a book with native Indian prayer, and did my best to perform the sweet grass ceremony. A Swedish Medical officer joined us. All signed the Shaman book. Had a long chat with the crew from many different nations around the fire. Received a farewell gift of a Count Dracula plaque from the Romanians, Justin and Cornel. Calls, back to tent. Jupiter shining bright in the clear night sky.
Camp Dracula, Romanian ABC-79M APC, Romanian Major and Maj Hal Skaarup.
28 Jul 04 Wednesday. 0400 at the front bunker with kit. Loaded up the Bisons, climbed aboard with rifle and drove to the airport for the last time. 4-½ hr C-130 Hercules flight to Camp Mirage. 46°C on arrival – good grief hot! PM supper with BGen Lacroix and crew. Dumb movie in the evening outdoors, ½-Moon. Chat with CA Capt Art M, chaplain. Two RPG-7 rounds were fired in Kabul, at a construction site where South Koreans were building a job training center for the Afghan people. There were no casualties.
28 Jul 04 Thursday. Meetings all day to review KMNB brief/Lessons Learned Brief etc. Passports. 46°C again. Calls in the evening. Jonathan’s puzzle ring. WO Chris K. Buczynski arrived. Baggage check at 6PM. Watched LOTR III movie outdoors, way too warm. Uniform on.
(Bob Adams Photo)
Airbus CC-150 Polaris (Serial No. 15005).
30 Jul 04 Friday. 0030 hrs at the terminal to board a service air CC-150 Polaris (Airbus), lifted off the tarmac at 0200 hrs. Jokes with Mike and Angel. The Commander gave us first class seats forward as his staff. 5-½ hrs to Zagreb, two hours on the ground. WO Chris K. Buczynski chat. Next stop Glasgow/Prestwick, Scotland, 1 hr on the ground then 5-½ hrs to Quebec City. Long line, lots of 5e Brigade greeters including BGen Gaston Côté, Commander of the Land Force Quebec Area Headquarters in Montreal, who asked me how the morale of the Int Section was. 55-minute flight to Montreal on a Dash 8-100, then another flight on a Dash 8-300 to Fredericton. Bags got lost, but Faye and Chloe were there to meet me looking great. Home!
31 Jul 04. The United States government warned its citizens that the security situation in Afghanistan remained critical and that there was a general threat to all Americans visiting the nation.
In 2006, Canada took on a larger role in Afghanistan after the Canadian troops were redeployed to Kandahar province. 2,500 CF continued operations there. The driver of this HLVW survived the blast from an IED, and took the photo.
During a training exercise in Ottawa on 9 Oct 2003, I met and spoke briefly with one of our new Intelligence Branch Officers, Capt Michelle Mendes. She seemed bright and worked hard. As a Major on her second tour in Afghanistan in 2009, we lost her.
Major Michelle Mendes, age 30, Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Branch, died on 23 April 2009 while assigned to Task Force Afghanistan headquarters. She was deployed with the Canadian contingent of NATO forces at the Kandahar. Soldiers from Canada and around the world bid a final farewell to her, as her flag-draped casket was lifted onto a military transport on the tarmac of Kandahar Airfield. Mendes was serving in her second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
LCol Spencer Selhi, LCol Diane Baldasaro, LCol Rebecca Barton and LCol Kris Reeves were classmates of Michelle at Canada's Royal Military College (RMC), Kingston, Ontario. They all met again serving in different capacities in the Afghan war. “The war brought all of us together ... to lose one of our classmates stopped us in our tracks,” said LCol Reeves. LCol Barton was at the end of her deployment in Kabul and at the request of the Knight family, flew home with Maj Mendes’ body. LCol Selhi was the pilot.