Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Efforts in Afghanistan

Brig.-General Tim Grant

The man who has led Canadian troops in Afghanistan for the past nine months says he thought about his wife as a bomb went off near a convoy he was travelling in last week. (see posting below)
“The first thing that went through my mind is: `What’s my wife going to say?’,” Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant said Monday in an interview with CTV’s Canada AM, noting he had also been on hand when a rocket attack occurred a couple of days before Thursday’s suicide bomb attack.
“It shouldn’t be any surprise that she was unhappy with me when I finally made contact,” he said. Grant survived both attacks unscathed.
No other Canadian troops in the three vehicle convoy were injured when a suicide bomber detonated a car southeast of Kandahar City.
But the attack was powerful enough to make an RG-31 Nayala vehicle roll in a ditch and flip over. Grant had nothing but praise for the Canadian soldiers who in the convoy.
“The things they (the soldiers) did in split-second timing saved the lives of numerous people,” said Grant. “There is no doubt in my mind that if they hadn’t done what they did in the way they did it, then everyone would not have walked away.”
Unlike many generals with the militaries in other countries, Canadian generals use the same ground transport as the troops rather than travel by helicopter.
Grant is slated to leave Afghanistan this week after a nine-month stay and will hand the command of Canadian forces in Kandahar to Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, who arrived at the base on Friday.
Grant said on the weekend that he is handing Laroche an Afghanistan that is more confident that it was a year ago.
He said Canadian and NATO efforts in Afghanistan have helped save the lives of 40,000 children.
Grant credited the success to improvements in health care, which has led to a drop in the region’s infant mortality rate.
In an interview with CBC Newsworld also broadcast Monday, Grant expressed frustration with the difficulty of explaining the importance of the Afghanistan mission to the Canadian public.
“I can give you examples across the board about how we’re making a difference with the people here.”
Grant told the CBC. “This is a poor country, 30 years of war, it needs a lot of help to get back on track.”
Grant blamed a lack of information for poll results that suggest Canadians are uneasy with Canada’s role in Afghanistan.
“The focus always ends up being on casualties, attacks, on the military-security situation,” he said. “In fact, where we’re making the most difference is on reconstruction and development.”
“If I could find the magic solution to explain to Canadians how important this is, it would make me a happy man.”
See: Progress in Afghanistan

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