Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sun Media's Michael Den Tandt lies to make flawed point about Afghan mission

Shame on Sun Media columnist Michael Den Stadt for his misleading column today.

He uses the following falsehood to bolster his argument that continued Canadian combat operations in the most dangerous region of Afghanistan are necessary: "Most of our casualties in Kandahar have been suffered in (improvised explosive device) attacks."

This is simply not the case, according to this breakdown of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan since 2001. Sixty-nine of the 78 deaths (77 soldiers, one diplomat) have taken place since the Canadians were rotated into Kandahar in early 2006. Of those, 32 have been caused either by roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Perhaps I'm quibbling with numbers, but surely anyone familiar with basic mathematics can tell that 32 out of 69 cannot constitute "most of (the) casualties in Kandahar." That's less than half of the casualties. Of course, not all of those 32 were killed by improvised explosive devices. By my count, only 11 were the result of IEDs, four less than the 15 killed in combat operations in Kandahar.

Here's the full breakdown since 2001 of Canadian deaths in Afghanistan (as of today, Jan 20, 2008):

FRIENDLY FIRE
6

SUICIDE ATTACKS
12

KILLED IN EXPLOSION
1

LANDMINE EXPLOSION
2

LAV III ROLLOVER/CRASH
3

ROADSIDE BOMB/IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE
32

COMBAT/FIRE FIGHT/ROCKET ATTACK/AIR & GROUND OFFENSIVE AGAINST TALIBAN/HELICOPTER SHOT DOWN
15

TRAFFIC ACCIDENT
3

SHOOTING INCIDENTS, STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION
2

FELL FROM TOWER
1

SUICIDE
1

Den Tandt argues that Canada's combat operations in Kandahar are actually undermining the Taliban's ability to use more IEDs or roadside bombs. He may or may not be right. But if the Canadian mission is rotated out of the danger zone, one can only assume this would likely lessen Canadian casualties.

I guess he assumes that Canadians would remain in Kandahar once we are no longer engaging in combatting the Taliban directly, and therefore would be sitting ducks to their attacks.

Why are the Taliban targeting Canadians with roadside bombs and IEDs? Because we are in their home region for the purposes of hunting down and killing them. They are fighting back. It's war.

By February 2009, we will have been engaged in direct combat with the Taliban in Kandahar for three years. That is quite the contribution. This is a NATO mission, not a Canadian mission. Our allies must also do their part and face up to their responsibilities as well. I know many Canadian conservatives agree with that. I don't think we should cut and run, we should share the heavy burden with our allies who are letting us down.

3 comments:

Mushroom said...

I will not blame the NATO allies for letting us down. Why we ended up in the killing fields of Kandahar remains to be seen.

Kandahar will have an effect in our psyche like Vietnam had on Australia. Why were we there?

Matt Guerin said...

I remember clearly supporting the Afghan invasion at the time. I now regretfully recognize how hasty a move that was. But now I think Canada and other NATO countries have an obligation to see this through to the end. To finish what we started. We can't just wash our hands of it.

Capper said...

Mushroom,
I do not agree with any of your comments. You speck about the NATO allies letting us down.. Do you even know how many troops are on the ground over there ? Further more we ended up over there to help the good people of Afghanistan to build a better country for themselves - period. Unfortunantly, not everyone can see this (you) or wants it (taliban), so what I am going to say is this -> unless you go there and see for your own eyes what differences have been made by our efforts keep your mouth shut ! Everytime someone like you says negative things you are taking away from the sacrifice our men/women have made over there in the name of peace...
Let me quote Mr. Den Tandt and I don't do that much >>On my second trip to Kabul I met a group of Afghan war widows who obtained cows, milk for their kids and a small income for themselves, at the behest of CARE International. This is a Canada-funded program.

How many times were you over there ? I was never there but i wont pretend to know more about that mission than what I do.. I was in the military at one point and am now a civilian for personal reason's - I still "Support Our Troops' you know that moral let down has lost wars.. So support our men & women , of course we want them home , but let them finish the job that they went there to do.....

Regards.