OC’s Update September

By Maj JL Cochrane
1 October 2009

September is now in the past and we have started our rotation with B Squadron. In what seems like the “blink of an eye” our tour is quickly coming to a close and we are now down to counting days and hours as opposed to weeks and months. The last few days are the hardest with people turning their eyes towards home, let me assure you that the SSM and I are very aware of this challenge and constantly reminding people that they are not to “relax or let their guard down” until they are safely back in Edmonton. The Squadron, as always, has responded with the utmost professionalism staying focused on the job at hand, which right now is to ensure that we provide B Squadron with the best possible hand over.

The Squadron has again been busy this month. The QRF has responded to a large amount of requests for assistance and the Squadron had to redesign its force composition to address all the tasks that seem to be flowing in our direction. Throughout the tour we have quickly become a Brigade asset with employment with the American and British Forces. With the increased task load it was a blessing that HLTA was complete as we were able to slightly modify the Squadron and generate a three troop squadron with three call signs in each troop. Although not ideal it allowed us to cover off the additional tasks and do everything in our power to support the 2R22ER Battle Group and the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.

Throughout the month we also had a number of visitors including Team Canada representatives that dropped in for an hour to meet, sing and socialize with the soldiers. Unfortunately during the visit the FOB we had to deal with a significant mass casualty event following a suicide IED strike in town. For the Team Canada members at least they got a true feel for what Afghanistan is really like.

During this visit the CDS, who was escorting Team Canada, presented several coins to members of the FOB, with our very own Sgt Sanduliak being awarded one for his perseverance throughout this tour. He was employed in countless rolls, required to switch to a Crew Commanding position for over half the tour, and most importantly kept a smile on his face throughout, he is undoubtedly one of, if not the, happiest individuals that I have ever met.

The CO was also in FMG on several occasions during the month and also took the opportunity to award several of the Squadron soldiers with some well deserved recognition:

Cpl Malashevsky - Since Mid-Aug she has been in FMG and, as a Cpl filling in a MCpls position, her performance has exceeded what is expected of a MCpl in that position.

Sgt Alexander - He was responsible for the day to day running of the FOB, managing the interpreters and creating their work schedule, leave plots and generally looked out for their welfare. He was also always the first contact on the FOB for LN wounded when they came to gate. He often clarified the confusion from the front gate and passed on the required information to the CP ad UMS so that the proper life saving care could be given, especially during the several MASCASs we've had on the FOB.

Cpl D'Angelo - He has been moved from Tp to Tp. His perseverance and professionalism have made him an excellent example for younger soldiers to emulate. He is extremely hard working and maintained a very positive attitude throughout the tour.

Tpr Courneyea - After his vehicle struck 2 IED's, he persevered and continued to perform at a very level. Knowing the man power shortages in the Squadron, he displayed his professionalism and dedication to his peers by continually returning to the driver’s hole without hesitation or complaint.

I would like to congratulate the following soldiers that were recently promoted:

From Tpr(T) to Cpl
Cpl Cook

From Trooper to Trooper Trained:
Tpr(T) Paskuski
Tpr(T) Brisebois-Bergeron

Congratulations to all of you on your well earned promotions.

As this will be my last update from Afghanistan there are a few thank-yous that are important to make:

First - I would also like to convey my thanks to the families of the Regiment and more important the Squadron. Your support and encouragement has been essential to the successes that we have experienced during this tour. As I have said many times – without all of you we could not do what we do; please accept my sincere thanks.

Second – To Mr. Brian Hetherington who facilitated our articles to the Edmonton Journal. The time and effort you took to help convey the stories of the Squadron members to the public was greatly appreciated. You are an extremely generous man and certainly a friend to me, the Regiment, and most importantly the men and women of the Canadian Forces.

Third – The 2R22ER Battle Group was completely supportive of the Squadron from the first moment we were attached to them. We were never considered outsiders and treated as members of the team. LCol Jocelyn Paul and RSM Jules Moreau were the leaders of an exception group of soldiers that I am proud to have worked with.

Lastly, and most importantly – To the men and women of C Squadron. I am incredibly proud to have served here in Afghanistan with you. You are an incredibly resilient group which has achieved every mission and task assigned to us. You have completed more than 25 different operations in various forms. In addition, you have responded to more than 220 calls for assistance from Coalition and Afghan Forces in what was the most active summer fighting season since 2002. What makes this all the more impressive is that you achieved this with one less troop than any previous rotation. Your performance has been nothing less than extraordinary.

By the time this article is posted B Squadron will have taken over the reigns and have commenced their tour of duty. I wish them the best of luck and a safe and a speedy return to Canada. I am sure that under the guidance of Major Rob Hume and SSM Holland they will continue to do the Regiment and the Canadian Forces proud.

The Squadron will continue to put articles on to the webpage and our last article for the Edmonton Journal will be on the 5th of October. I still encourage you to contact the Mission Information Hotline where you will hear messages from the troops in Afghanistan that will be updated at least weekly, right until we leave. The number is 1-800-866-4546 when the initial greeting is given you will need to dial 1-1221 for English and 1-2221 for French.