Monday, February 23, 2009

Griffons fly by night--and it's no big deal

Taking it to the Taliban--supposedly some sort of great scoop:
Air missions aim to defuse IED toll
Nighttime patrols by Canadian choppers target insurgents planting roadside bombs


Cpl. C. Hinds, a Canadian gunner aboard a CH-146 Griffon helicopter, looks out over the Afghan countryside during a daytime escort mission on Friday. (Murray Brewster / CP)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two CH-146 Griffon helicopters lifted off into the dim, grainy dusk above Kandahar Airfield one night last week and made straight for the mountains, in a new and completely unheralded chapter in the Afghan war.

This mission and the handful of ones before it are not something the air force eagerly broadcasts in its public relations campaign [emphasis added], but it is perhaps one of the most important life-saving duties the new air wing carries out.

Aircraft running lights were switched off once they cleared "the wire" allowing the grey and black camouflaged Griffons to blend in with the night sky.

Armed with night-vision goggles and a pod of darkness-piercing sensors, including high-definition cameras, the aircrews had set off on a deadly cat-and-mouse chase with the Taliban.

Two gunners on each aircraft leaned on their weapons through open doorways and looked down impassively as the lights of Kandahar city unfolded below them like irregular multi-coloured jewels cast on black velvet blanket. The helicopters rose swiftly, brushed past the soaring volcanic peaks and then burst out over the desert, dropping to 152 metres, where the total blackness of the countryside enveloped them.

Although officially relegated to escort new CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters, the Griffons belonging to 408 Squadron were quietly given a new, more dangerous role soon after they deployed in December.

Their orders were to hunt insurgents who lace the roadways with home-made bombs, missions that depend on the murky world of classified intelligence [emphasis added].

Roadside bombs have over the last three years exacted the single most deadly toll on Canadian soldiers, accounting for half of the 108 deaths.

That the Griffon could be useful in reducing the carnage has long been recognized in air force circles...

Mr Brewster unfortunately, in all-to-frequent Canadian media style, over-hypes his great revelation of this type of Griffon mission. From Archie McLean in the Edmonton Journal, February 1:
The Griffons are smaller helicopters whose primary role will be to escort the Chinook, which is a much larger target for ground fire. They can also conduct armed reconnaissance and surveillance when needed...
And here's an interesting comment at, pointing out a number of errors in the story.


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Business "comme d'habitude" for leftist MSM types. Having equal parts ignorance of things military and often not-so-subtle contemptuous antipathy to same, they seem to use double-barreled hyperboles they tend to use by default.

First is the "great danger" hyperbole. No matter what Canadian (or other Allied Forces for that matter) do or don't do, it's unwise and puts the Troops in enormous danger.

Second is the "aggressive-gunslinger-in-your-face-combat" hyperbole. CF helicopter crews are going into Clint Eastwood mode, strapping on their Colt 45s and going out looking for bad guys with whom to have shootouts. This is of course the opposite of "the Canadian Way" of being Peacekeepers.

All of this is of course the opposite of reality. Militarily sound, measured operational steps of using newly arrived CF helicopters in ways that enhance the safety of CF ground forces and also put a crimp in the Taliban's IED capabilities. Both of these objectives were important recommendations in the final report of the Manley Commission, weren't they?

Of course, that's not the scribblers' agenda...

1:52 p.m., February 23, 2009  

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