26 May 2006

Capt Thomas LaCroix

The Brigade has seen its numbers increase substantially since we first arrived. The following are some of the units that fall under the command of BGen David Fraser as part of Coalition Task Force AEGIS:

· TF HELMAND (UK – 3 Para Bn)
· TF KNIGHTHAWK (US – 2-10 Aviation Regt, 10th Aviation Bde)
· TF WARRIOR (US – 2-4 Inf Bn, 10th Mtn Div)
· TF WHITESHARK (ROM – 141st Inf Bn)

All units of the brigade have been conducting operations that have varied from Cordon and Search operations to Poppy Eradication to Leader Engagements with village elders to Medical Outreach Programmes where medics and veterinarians treat civilians and their livestock.

I’m sad to say that the commemoration of the Battle of Melfa River received less fanfare than Moreuil Wood did. Even though BGen Tim Grant and RSM Russ Ells were here to visit the soldiers of LFWA and 1 CMBG, they were too busy being whisked about from place to place to ask us what we had planned. To be honest, our numbers are so few and far apart that it is difficult to get everyone together. Maj Chris Adams came to Kandahar from Bagram for a meeting and a few of us found ourselves in our quarters, telling “mess tales” over cans of non-alcoholic beer. I present a conversation that may have been slightly embellished (as most mess tales are). The identities have been changed to protect the careers of those involved:

Capt #1: “Happy Strathcona Day, gents.”
Capt #2: “What? Is it that time already? What month is it?”
Capt #3: “It’s only two weeks until my leave block starts.”
Capt #4 (a Patricia of the 3rd persuasion): “Yeah, happy whatever day.”
Maj #1: “Keep it up, you’ll be wearing a black beret soon enough.”

There is a general agreement around here that Monday, Tuesday, etc. should all be renamed “Day”. That way, you don’t get that weird feeling when you think it’s Saturday but it’s actually Tuesday. Either that or the days could be assigned more descriptive names like “Steak Day”, “Mail Day”, “Bazaar Day”, and “I-missed-Church-again Day”.

Sadly, the successes that the task forces have won have not come without a cost. It’s hard to think of a coalition force in this area that has not suffered the loss or injury of their soldiers in support of this mission. It’s no doubt that many people back home have some fond memories of those who are no longer with us. Capt Nichola Goddard was a personal acquaintance of mine from RMC and Phase training and she also led the Fire Support Coordination Cell that was embedded in RHQ during Ex PRAIRIE RAM 04. Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of support during the tough times.

(Photos courtesy of Combat Camera and Sgt (NLD) Gerben Van Es)