Afghanistan: My Experience Varied

Tpr David Aube, ADM Troop
25 September 2009

Considering the fact that I trained to be a LAV (Light Armoured Vehicle) driver for the SSM of C Sqn, it's hard for me to write an article on being that. After the 10 months of training back in Canada on our first day on ground in Afghanistan it was brought to my attention that due to operational requirements I would not going to be driving a LAV for the SSM. As all soldiers know you have to be flexible when it comes to this job and my task was reassigned to air sentry, or GIB (Guy in the back) of the SSM’s T-LAV (Tracked Light Armoured Vehicle). To write an article on that would be somewhat short as well as I have only done that a few times as my task here in Afghanistan has changed frequently. I have still helped my driver look after the vehicle while it was in the FOB (Forward Operating Base). My leave block was two months into the tour so I wasn’t provided with too many opportunities to go out of the wire. After my leave back in Canada there was a need at our FOB for a LAV driver. I was placed with an artillery forward observation unit and I was behind the wheel of a LAV. I was so thrilled to finally get to drive in Afghanistan and to have an active part in the war against terrorism. Switching from the back of a vehicle to the front and be more responsible for the crew inside it is something I didn’t take lightly. If I didn’t maintain that LAV properly something could have gone wrong and caused problems while we were outside the wire, but luckily we had a good vehicle and no major faults were found.

From time to time I was tasked to be a co-driver on the new 16 ton vehicles, the AHSVS (Which by the way, if you were unaware is a completely air-conditioned cab, very nice in a country that got up past 60 degrees this past summer). This job consisted of making sure the driver doesn't hit an obstacle on the road (or a trench… Alvin) and to let him know that he is doing a great job and that he is the best driver in NATO. In July, Cpl Carnevale, Sgt Thomas and I got called up to the “Big Leagues”. We went to KAF to be part of The Task Force Commanders crew (TAC) and do some serious driving. We didn't go out as often compared to what the TAC was used to but for me it was better than staying on the FOB and watching the locals clean the showers. While with the TAC we went where ever the General was required to go. I was able to visit places that normally I wouldn’t have had the chance to go back with the Sqn. As soon as my permanent replacement showed up, I was back out to the FOB (to the relief of the SSM, as C Sqn has been hurting for people… what’s the saying, “half the people twice the jobs?”) Before I left though, I received my promotion to Trooper Trained (I like the look of my first hook) from the Task Force Commander himself.

When I got back "home" to the FOB, I was told I was going on an operation and I was ecstatic. We went out for about five days during which time I regretfully stole Fanta can’s from my driver (sorry Paulie). After that, thing’s got pretty quiet for me. Other than helping out with the rotation of co-drivers on QRF (Quick Reaction Force) my job was mainly, once again to watch help around camp where needed. It may not have been the most glamorous of jobs in NATO, but still a required necessity. I also got the chance to spend one more night outside the comfort of my bunk when the Infantry went to build a patrol base near a school, in order to help with the security and the re-building process.

Well, now that all our bags are packed and I look back on my 6 plus months in Afghanistan it really goes to show you, you need to be flexible in this army. I trained to do one thing and did 6 others. With this last week to go, the only thing that is missing before we can leave is our replacements. We stay vigilant as we think about our leave plan and more importantly getting back to our loved ones. Soon we'll be back in Edmonton and the blazing Afghan sun will be replaced by the soon approaching freezing Canadian winter. The sand will make its way into snow and normal life will replace this wonderful experience. Home, sweet home, here we come.