Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"We're not in Afghanistan to burn gas and shoot bullets"

The Canadian Forces' thinking about operations in today's world:
Like many officers of his generation, Maj.-Gen. Stuart Beare trained to fight a Cold War suddenly turned hot with two standing armies clashing along a border, likely in Germany.

For Beare, the outgoing commander of CFB Kingston's Land Force Doctrine and Training System - essentially the Canadian army's combat college - it's not like that anymore. He's one of the senior officers adapting the Canadian Forces to the new world of warfare, where superiority on the ground and in the air does not equal victory against ragtag groups of combatants who fight using improvised explosive devices rather than tanks.

"We're not in Afghanistan to burn gas and shoot bullets," said the blunt-spoken Beare, a former gunner who is moving to National Defence headquarters in Ottawa after turning over command of the 2,500-strong Kingston-based unit to Maj.-Gen. Marquis Hainse.

"Winning is no longer about killing, and everyone who is over there right now gets that. They see it with their own eyes and they understand it."

Today's battleground is much more nuanced than the traditional two armies clashing in the night, Beare said. Kingston has quietly carved out a major role in planning how modern campaigns in Afghanistan and elsewhere are waged.

While elements of traditional warfare are still present, combat capability is now also a supporting arm of reconstruction and development.

Beare said that kind of philosophical and tactical shift was long overdue and is being emulated by other countries, including the United States, as they realize that the military's traditional role of putting steel on target is no longer sufficient...

Although primarily an army command, the Kingston unit also advises the air force and navy on training and operational issues and sends personnel around the world...

The unit develops and implements computerized battlefield simulations for troops here and at other bases, including Trenton, CFB Gagetown, in New Brunswick, and Wainwright, Alta. The Peace Support Training Centre is also under its command, as is the 2 Electronic Warfare Squadron, members of which travel everywhere the Canadian Forces do and which is a key element of today's high-tech battleground...

A military operation like the one in Afghanistan now encompasses local politics, public relations and dealing with local media to communicate with local citizens about what the military is doing, tasks that Beare said are shared among personnel from privates to generals...


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

It all comes down to our people.

We, the Allies in the Global War on Terror, have the most incredible, sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons, aircraft and so forth. But they're just the tools. The weapons are the trained minds of the outstanding people we have fighting Civilization's cause overseas.

I read an article recently about a US Army CH-47D in Af-stan. The pilot is an Army Reserve pilot who's a medevac helicopter pilot here in Pennsylvania in civil life. Photos showed him holding his Chinook steady through up and downdrafts on a steep Af-stan mountainside, the rear touched down with the ramp open, while others loaded wounded soldiers for a flight to the nearest field hospital. This after flying through a steep, winding mountain valley to get to the troops. How many Aviators could fly with that consummate skill, eh?!

We Americans and Canadians ought to be so damned proud of the excellent people we have overseas fighting the GWOT. They serve with honor and surely reflect the great and noble heritage of both our Nations' patriot citizen warriors. We have our Freedom because of such men and women.

11:38 p.m., May 06, 2008  

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