Where’s the Beach? Tango Towing and Road Construction Ltd.

By: Capt P.E. Leonard
23 March 2007

After a productive and thorough handover with B Squadron, A Squadron got down to the business of getting out and about and cutting its teeth in this part of the world. The Squadron’s introduction to operations in theatre has been fast paced, however everyone has welcomed the opportunity to make our contribution.

Within the first few weeks of being in Afghanistan the Squadron is participating in the largest ground operation ever mounted in NATO’s history, Operation ACHILLES. As part of this operation, the Squadron (attached to the ‘Hotel’ Company Combat Team) has deployed into regions of Kandahar province that the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) elements and Western people in general have rarely visited.

Recently, the Combat Team was called upon to come to the aid of one of our larger and more powerful allies; on a recent move, our ally got caught up in a series of hastily laid, but devastating none-the-less, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines that stranded six of their vehicles in a wadi system. As a result, we deployed to their location, and after the Combat Team had an IED scare of its own, ploughed ten kilometres of new road through the Afghan landscape to recover their vehicles. The tanks, maintainers and engineers of the Combat Team worked quickly and efficiently to recover and tow numerous vehicles in various states of disrepair, completing the mission (estimated to take 48 hours by Task Force staffers) in less than twelve hours. Concurrent activity was key and by the time our force was ready to extract, we could have been mistaken for a gypsy caravan. The Armoured Recovery Vehicles (ARVs), the Armoured Engineer Vehicles (the AEVs, or ‘Badgers’) and their crews worked overtime that day. Kudos to all the maintainers, in particular MCpls Mike “Cargo Strap” Richards, Rodney “Wrecker Tow” Purchase, Cpls Dan “Sledgehammer” Dorsey and Dean “Jerry-Rig” Larsen and their crews. The “Vagabond” engineers from Gagetown were also busy… hats off to Sgt Mark O’Donnell, Cpl Guy Robichaud, Spr Mitchell Burgess and the other sappers for their efforts. As we pulled away, the makeshift flag that flew from the antenna of one their vehicle’s said it all – “Tim Horton for President: Canada Rocks.”

On the return trip, WO John “I’ll be the flagman” Pudar thought that perhaps the Squadron should get into the road building business. Indeed, the roads ploughed by Sgt Trent “Plow King” Hiscock (the jacket is in the works) and WO Todd “my invoice is in the mail” Hopkin were some of the widest and smoothest I’ve seen in this country yet. Second career opportunity, perhaps?

Throughout our operations, MWO Bill “Packmeyer” Crabb’s echelon has been, without question, the busiest element of our Squadron, if not the Battle Group, running convoys almost daily to keep the combat team running. Excitement mounts each time that Sgt Mike “Grumpy Old Man” Bolger, MCpl Pat “Elvis, Grump-in-Training” Stoyko and others roll into the leaguer because they keep us supplied with mail from home, access to the canteen and, of course, the odd smoke or dip, as the case may be.

Morale in the fighting Troops could not be better; there isn’t a better feeling in the world than rolling across a desert in a tank as part of a combat team out looking for Taliban. In a dusty landscape, soldiers have long lamented being late in the order of march for obvious reasons. Here, however, the impressive sight of that many combat vehicles kicking up plumes of dust in the sun is one that none of our soldiers will forget. Whether operating out of austere leaguers and living on our islands (tanks) or soaking up the luxuries of the odd fresh meal or shower at Ma’sum Ghar, the troops are happy to be doing their job in this part of the world and taking pleasure in the little things. Take for example, the antics of crews stuck on extended periods of maintenance in the Artillery Manoeuvre Area; when he gets back, just ask Cpl Mike “Afghan slingshot” Murphy what he’s talking about.

In the end, time passes quickly and as some soldiers begin to rotate out of theatre for their leave, others recognize that their time will pass even more quickly in the future and are even more motivated to get out and make their mark in this country. No doubt our turn will come, and, to the relief of many here, maybe sooner than we might expect. Until next time… Perseverance.