Janet Harrington Civilian Deployed with CFPSA
Kandahar Airfield, July 2007-Jan. 2008, Jan. 2011- July.2011
I was deployed to Afghanistan with CFPSA and worked retail on the Airbase in Kandahar. During my time there, I also got involved at the NATO role 3 hospital, volunteering in the ward and eventually in the trauma bay. I was given the opportunity to work with a team every 5th day, and duties included cleaning stretchers, moving patients, and assisting with any needs the team had during a trauma call. Sometimes I did IV’s or wound cleaning, as I have a medical background, they allowed me to be more hands on with the people coming in. Sometimes we saw Afghan civilians, children who has been hit by stray bullets, or families who’s vehicles had struck IED’s. Often we had military members come in from any of the NATO countries working over there.
One day I decided to head over to the Trauma bay for a few hours before going into work later that day. We were preparing to do MOC drills and started working out the details of who would be doing what during the drill. The pager went off mid-way thru, a triple amputee was being brought in from point of injury. Imminently the bay was full of staff preparing everything from IV’s to blood transfusions. A crew was sent out to meet the chopper flying the patient in. For almost a brief moment it seemed like the room stopped and suddenly a voice was head, screaming for morphine, making pleads to God and us to stop the pain. Everyone sprung into action. We removed what was left of his clothing, both right and left legs were gone except an inch or two of bone and bloodied mess, I grabbed onto it to hold him steady while the doctors and corpsmen intubated the young soldier. His right arm, still attached to his body was hanging by skin. Blood transfusions began, new turnicates were applied and the soldier was prepped for surgery. It seemed like hours had gone passed, by the time we rolled him into the OR. However the team leader informed us later that everything from entry to exit had been just under 15 minutes.
I had never seen an amputation before, and later that afternoon as I prepared for my shift at Tim Horton’s, I reflected on the sacrifice this man had made. I wondered what it would be like when he woke up and was aware of what happened. Although I was on my second tour in KAF, and had attended multiple ramp ceremonies, the sacrifice this man had made really seemed to hit home personally. That day gave me a new appreciation for what our soldiers do in Afghanistan. I have the utmost respect for every man and women that has come home in a casket, I see their names and faces on memorials and I know I will never forget them. But nor will I forget that many, many more have come home forever changed. This day reminded me that even though not every name will make it to the history books, and some not even to the newspaper, they too need to be remembered for everything they have given.
A Canadian in Kabul
By SLt David Lewis PAO – Chief of Social Media
NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan Camp Eggers, Kabul November 2011
The Canadian Forces combat mission is wrapping up and OP ATTENTION, the Canadian Contribution Training Mission Afghanistan (CCTM-A) is underway. As a member of Roto 0, my boots are on the ground at Camp Eggers in Kabul.
It is a somewhat surreal experience to be standing here in Afghanistan. The hot barren mountains of the Hindu Kush which surround the city have been witness to a dramatic stream of human history. I am now part of that history. As I ride in a convoy through the streets of Kabul I am amazed at the differences, and the
similarities between here and Canada. On a side street, for example, I see a young father holding the seat of a bicycle while his son learns to ride. The feeling that most consumes me is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Afghan people who smile and wave to me on the street. I have a responsibility to the mission, and I have an inherent responsibility to those Canadians who have preceded me here. It is their dedication and sacrifice that passes the torch to me. I do not accept it lightly.
The NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A) mission was stood up over 21 months ago. Canada is one of 34 troop-contributing countries, under NATO command, dedicated to ensuring that Afghanistan’s security institutions (Army, Air Force, and Police) are self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Canadian trainers
and mentors are playing an integral part in this mission.
Literacy has also become a fundamental part of this new mission. NTM-A launched an aggressive campaign to dramatically change literacy training for Afghan security personnel. As of 12 August 2011 there are 87,400 Afghan soldiers and police enrolled in literacy class. Recently the 100,000 graduate of literacy training received his certificate. School enrollment also has increased from 900,000 (mainly boys) to almost seven million (37 percent girls). NTM-A is also reaching out to the civilian sector to establish educational relationships to increase literacy opportunities. One of the core missions is to establish an enduring educational capacity.
Over the next several years, they will develop key force enablers such as logistics, human resources, and finance. Professionalizing the force is a key to creating enduring institutions and reducing Afghan reliance on ISAF. As Afghans assume the security lead, NTM-A’s focus shifts to training the trainer.
Over the past two years, an additional 113,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been trained and are working with 130,000 NATO. In seven areas of Afghanistan the Afghan Army and Police are already leading security efforts. Local militias are integrating into the formal security structure; commerce is returning; and schools are opening. GDP has increased from $170 under the Taliban to $1,000 per capita in 2010. Almost all Afghans now have access to basic health services (only nine percent did in 2002). Most of the country is now connected via mobile phones and highways. The powerful force of social media is altering the landscape as over one million Afghans have internet access and over 215,000 have facebook accounts. The fabric of the Afghan society itself is evolving.
If there are Canadian troops who have arrived home wondering if there was more they could still do’, I want them to understand that we are here, continuing their work. Every success we have is part of their legacy. I have hope. The Afghan people, with the help of the world community, are reclaiming Afghanistan.
I think again of the young Afghan father supporting his son as he navigates his new bicycle. I watch the father let go and I see the son move forward on his own, and I think of Afghanistan.
Canadian Naval Reserve in Arid Cadpat
By SLt David Lewis, RCN, NTM-A PAO Kabul
It’s early morning and the main road running through Camp Eggers, Afghanistan has come alive with the camouflage uniforms of 34 different nations. In the flowing river of green and brown patterns there stands out a small flash of red – a maple leaf. Like a salmon swimming upstream, this Naval Reservist from Ottawa, Ontario weaves her way through the hot Kabul morning.
It’s already 38 Celsius as Lieutenant (Navy) JoAnne Carter heads to the motor-pool where she dons her heavy flak jacket and tactical vest. Meeting her convoy team she climbs behind the wheel of an armoured SUV and heads towards the gate. The vehicle snakes its way along the concrete canyons, through the weave of rock-filled gabion-basket walls and past the sand-bagged armed sentry
“I find the driving a real challenge but I truly enjoy it”, say JoAnne “It’s a fascinating view of the Afghan people going about their daily life in this war-torn city.” When the convoy stops it will be at the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) Headquarters where LT(N) Carter is an advisor. The ANCOP mission is to maintain the rule of law and order by utilizing proportionate armed capability. ANCOP is the lead police organization in counter insurgency
operations and it works in close cooperation with the other Afghan police organizations.
“I have an Afghan counterpart whom I meet with several hours a day, at ANCOP HQ,” says JoAnne, “He is a very professional and personable officer with a long career in policing and investigation. He’s asked for advice on a wide-range of topics.”
This is not the first deployment for this Naval Reservist. Since joining at HMCS Carleton in Ottawa in 1983, she has been a recruiting officer, staff officer at Submarine Acquisition, Training Officer at both Fleet School Quebec and at the Maritime Warfare Centre in Halifax. She has participated in Exercise Bell Buoy 2010 in Newcastle, Australia, and was selected for Roto 0 of OP SAIPH, Canada’s participation at NATO, Northwood in the UK, in the campaign to enhance maritime security in the Persian Gulf and in the waters around the Horn of Africa.
It is no surprise that JoAnne volunteered for service in Afghanistan. Her family has a history of service. Her father was a Second World War veteran with the RCAF and her grandfather was a First World War veteran with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
“I always knew that if I was in a position to volunteer for service, I would,” she says quietly, “But it was a family member being killed here in Afghanistan in 2007 that inspired me to come back into the Canadian Forces and put my previous 15 years of military experience back to work.”
It has been an incredibly rewarding experience already. She has been welcomed into her counterpart’s office and he has shared information with her about his family and his career. She shares his concerns about the safety of ANCOP personnel both in the field and in the headquarters. There is a great deal of understanding, humour, and a profound sense that they are not very different.
“We want the same outcome and trust each other to work toward the same goal.” She smiles as she says, “It’s rewarding to be part of OP ATTENTION and to continue the good work Canadians have already done in Afghanistan. I get to work with fellow Canadians, and with so many other nations who are committed to this mission.”
And tomorrow morning, as the first beams of sunlight stream down over the Hindu Kush, they will no doubt illuminate a black Royal Canadian Navy beret, and a small red maple leaf, moving through the crowd.
MCpl Shaughn Wittman – Dates of my deployment were from 10 Nov 2010 to 25 Jul 2011. It was ROTO 10. I was the 2 i/c of a mobile construction team who toured our AO and prepared various FOBS for the rainy season and gave them creature conforts that they never had.
Photo of MCpl Shaughn Wittman by Sgt Twaddle
We spent on average 30 days at each FOB or TI then moved onto the next. Incredibly busy. We ended up getting the Task Force Commanders Commendation. We were based out of KAF for the first part of our tour and went to FOB Shoja, FOB Basha, TI Pul, TI MacThab, and FOB Folad. We were stood down in late January 2011 and from there I went to FOB Folad and took over as Det Comd for the Engineer Services Squadron where we maintained the camp of 300 and prepared it for handover to the US Forces from Alaska. We did this with a team of 4. The photos are of me and my team. The artist drawing was done by Johnson, Richard (National Post) where I was printed a few times as he was stationed in Folad for a few months. On many occassions I acted as his body gaurd when we went outside the wire to the top of Spotter Hill. We got quite close and he drew each member of my team.
Engineer Support Services on Tour on duty 24/7
The photo of the team was taken Capt Mathew Swegal of the USF
Left to right – Cpl Postma, MCpl Duval, Cpl Allard, Cpl Maillette, MCpl Wittman, Sgt Twaddle, and MWO Morningstar.
Being on tour has many challenges, from a tradesman’s point of view. Especially when you start off that tour as a carpenter on the Mobile Construction Team. After volunteering for what was to be an insane pace, we were apprehensive. All the major trades were there, and for good reason. The plumbers, electricians, carpenters and refrigeration techs were all kept busy. In most cases, we had over a weeks work to do in a matter of a few days. And since our time at each site was prescheduled, we had no choice but to get done what needed to be.
As the carpenter, I was crazy busy constructing floor boards for no less than 20-30 sections of modular tents at a time while making OP roofs and doors for offices. All of this within a few days. Even sneaking in the odd shelving unit for someone who needed storage space. When I wasn’t doing those, I was constructing decks over pits and mezzanines to increase sleeping areas for our guys on the ground. But we got it done. It’s amazing what can be built with a circular saw and a drill. Our time was well spent at night planning for the next day or sleeping off the exhaustion. But it all paid off at the end of each road trip when you saw the joy on the faces of the men and women when they saw what we did for them. Which usually meant flooring from the carpenter, running hot water and showers from the plumber, and fresh electrical grids and A/C from the EGS and RM techs?
The soldiers at each site were more than eager to help us if they could, as it helped us help them. But as all good things come to an end, so did our rotation as the MCT. I was lucky to finish and go on HLTA. Upon returning, I was moved to a FOB as an A Det Commander. My worst fear of boredom was beginning, because most of the infrastructure was already in place. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. As a team leader for an ESS element, I had the same crazy busy schedule. Only this time, a different set of problems every day. From overseeing the tasks of the tradesman on camp, and ordering supplies for future jobs or just restock, writing weekly evaluations & DSR’s, and attending meetings in HQ, as well as overseeing contractors, it never ends.
From sun up to sun down, an ESS commander never really stops. Unless its meal time, which of course, is usually when the contractors show up. But it too has its rewards. When there is an issue with something structural, we are the “go to team.” As the site engineers, we really make the difference between comfortable and safe. It is our expertise that helps make the difference whether or not they stay dry in the rainy season or cool in the hot. And being the leader of that team makes me in high demand most of the time. During the HQ meetings here, I am constantly being asked questions that make me look back at my training or refer to past experiences from the other trades. That is my challenge. Working the brain every day to ensure the jobs get done and everyone is happy.
Drawing by Richard Johnson, National Post.
I tend to look at this job as a business. The camp is my customer and when a request comes in, I ensure the highest quality work is done in the most reasonable time frame so the customer gets satisfaction. But when the request involves outside help from a local contractor, it gets interesting. Overcoming the language barrier between an Anglophone Det Comd and the Francophone unit here is hard enough let alone throwing in a Pashtu contractor. And the camp interpreters (Terps as we call them), really have to know their jobs. They act as a mutual aide to both sides to help get the job done. Information loss thru language exchange is important here. After all, you wouldn’t want a hundred trucks to show up when you request just one. It’s just another of the daily challenges.
But in the end, jobs get done. They have to. No matter how small like fixing a door, to installing a 2000LB generator for a new structure being built, or even assisting our fire chief as he does an inspection. Because the jobs never stop coming in. Every member here in the construction trade is devoted to keeping the wheels of the FOB running. And in most cases, like mine, we have 2 or more TI’s as well to support. Crazy busy. It’s the new term to describe my daily tasks as an ESS team leader. But in all the craziness of a day, friendships are formed. Language barriers are overcome. And a small team, the ESS team, keeps a large place running smoothly as a well oiled machine. CHIMO!
Warrant Officer Randie Potts, CISTM – 1 Service Battalion Edmonton.
I have done three tours in Afghanistan; all three tours were based out of Kandahar Airfield. I would like to share some changes that I experienced over there.
2011 – The Canadian C-17 transport stopped in front of the military air movements building as I walked towards it nothing was the same. We were taken to our interim barracks BATS then to the weather havens until the Roto 10 leaves. Two days of briefings this time, a lot did not pertain to us as we were not to leave the camp.
The quarters are ISO Trailers stacked two high with showers and indoor plumbing. Two guys to room with real beds and mattresses there was even an air conditioner in each one. Six very different Mess halls to have meals in. The tech shop was the same work area, a MEC shelter, sea can office stacked sea cans for storage with more LSVW MRT’s. One of the mess halls from the 2006 tour was made in the PX. The boardwalk was complete circle of small shops and eateries. There was the floor hockey rink notably Canadian with white boards and red trim. During the tour they put in a soccer pitch a large carpet of dark green artificial turf in the centre of the boardwalk circle. Tim Horton’s had moved it is now 4 trailers put together and only about 50 Metres from my quarters right across from Canada House. My son Adam and I use to treat each other to icecaps and Irish Toffee Cappuccinos at the picnic table by the walk by window. My oldest son, Adam was with me on this closeout tour. My youngest son, Ian had completed an second tour in 08/09 so he stayed back to deliver my first grandson, Charles. He came into this world the day before my birthday.
While on this tour I was proud to join my son on parade when he was presented with the Canadian Decoration.
What I found out about these tours is … what I enjoy is coming home to smiling faces and a few happy tears.
AT2011-T045-02, 16 December 2011, KABUL MILITARY TRAINING CENTRE, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
Sgt William Webb (left), and Australian Army Sgt. Darren Thomas, both Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) artillery school advisors, hold up signs that were donated from their respective hometowns; Brandon, Manitoba in Canada and Townsville, Queensland in Australia.
Over two hundred Canadian Forces advisors and support staff serve at KMTC as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A).
NTM-A is a coalition of 37 contributing nations charged with assisting the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take the lead of their country’s security by 2014.
Approximately 920 Canadian Forces personnel serve in advisory and support roles at training camps and headquarters locations primarily in the Kabul area. Smaller contingents serve at training institutions in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and in Herat in western Afghanistan. The mission’s mandate extends to March 2014.
Image by MCpl Chris Ward, Canadian Forces
© 2011 DND-MDN Canada
AT2011-T045-02, 16 décembre 2011, Centre d’instruction militaire de Kaboul (Afghanistan)
Le Sgt William Webb (à gauche) et le Sgt Darren Thomas (Armée australienne), conseillers de l’école d’artillerie du Centre d’instruction militaire de Kaboul (CIMK), tiennent des panneaux qui ont été offerts par leurs villes natales : Brandon (Manitoba), au Canada, et Townsville (Queensland), en Australie.
Plus de deux cent conseillers et employés de soutien des Forces canadiennes sont affectés au Centre d’instruction militaire de Kaboul dans le cadre de la participation des Forces canadiennes à la Mission OTAN de formation en Afghanistan (NTM-A).
La Mission OTAN de formation en Afghanistan regroupe 37 pays chargés d’aider le gouvernement de la République islamique de l’Afghanistan à former des Forces de sécurité nationale afghanes compétentes et durables qui seront prêtes à s’occuper de la sécurité dans leur pays d’ici 2014.
Environ 920 membres des Forces canadiennes jouent des rôles consultatifs et de soutien à des camps d’entraînement et à des quartiers généraux, situés principalement dans la région de Kaboul. Des plus petits contingents sont affectés à des établissements d’instruction à Mazar-e-Sharif, dans le nord de l’Afghanistan, et à Hérat, dans l’ouest du pays. La mission se poursuivra jusqu’en mars 2014.
Photo : Cplc Chris Ward, Forces canadiennes, © 2011 DND-MDN Canada