KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — A period of relative post-fighting season calm was shattered Wednesday when a Canadian soldier on foot patrol in the volatile Panjwaii district of southern Afghanistan was killed.
Lt. Andrew Richard Nuttall, along with an Afghan soldier, died when an improved explosive device detonated in the town of Nakhoney, the military said early Thursday. An interpreter was seriously injured.
Nuttall, 30, of Prince Rupert, B.C., belonged to the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton.
“Andrew came to Afghanistan because he honestly thought he could make a difference to the people of Afghanistan,” said Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, commander of coalition forces in Kandahar province.
“He wanted to lead from the front and set the example, attributes he passionately displayed every time he was in front of his platoon.”
Menard described Nuttall as generous, someone who always had a smile on his face and “greeted everyone he met with enthusiasm and goodwill.”
The death was the first in almost two months, when Sapper Steven Marshall was killed, and the first since Menard took over as top commander in Kandahar province.
Marshall died Oct. 30 in a similar incident, in what has been a record year for IED attacks in Afghanistan.
Since April 2007, 66 of the 89 Canadian deaths in Afghanistan have been the result of improvised explosive devices
With the relative quiet of the post-summer ebb in violence, Canadian soldiers, reinforced by hundreds of fresh American troops, have been attempting to establish secure areas in and around Kandahar city.
The aim, according to Menard, is to establish a “ring of stability” around the bustling city before the uptick in fighting traditionally begins in the spring, the phenomenon known as “fighting season.”
Nakhoney, about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City, one part of what was dubbed the Panjwaii triangle, has been an area in which Canadian forces have frequently encountered problems.
In July, for example, Canadian and Afghan soldiers uncovered four factories used by the Taliban to make improvised explosive devices. They also seized suicide-bomber vests, large quantities of explosive materials as well as weapons.
One soldier, Pte. Sebastien Courcy was killed during the operation when he stepped on an explosive.
Menard recently cited Nakhoney as an example where the reinforced Canadian forces were having an impact in providing security for local Afghans.
At the time of his death, Nuttall was searching for Taliban transit routes, Menard said.
“His patrol was part of our efforts to protect the people of the village from insurgents.”
Nuttall is survived by his mother Jane and father Richard.
Under Menard's new strategy, soldiers are moving out of their relatively safe operating bases to move into platoon houses in the community.
Video Credit: ErikH06
Slain Victoria Soldier Remembered for Passion, Leadership as Journey Home Begins
Written by Michelle Lang , (Canada's fallen Reporter in Afghanistan)
Calgary Herald: Thursday, December 24, 2009
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD , Afghanistan — Lt. Andrew Richard Nuttall, the 134th Canadian soldier to fall in Afghanistan, began his journey home to Canada following a sombre Christmas Eve ramp ceremony.
Thousands of NATO soldiers gathered Thursday at this airfield in southern Afghanistan to honour the 30-year-old army officer who died Wednesday when a homemade bomb detonated as he led a foot patrol in the dangerous Panjwaii district southwest of Kandahar City.
Before Nuttall's flag-draped casket was loaded onto a plane, Lt.-Col. Jerry Walsh remembered him as a popular and well-respected young leader who was operating in one of the most difficult areas of Afghanistan.
"Andrew had an infectious personality and always had a smile on his face, attributes which the soldiers under his command appreciated when times were tough," said Walsh, Nuttall's commanding officer.
Nuttall, who was originally from Prince Rupert, B.C., and grew up on the west coast of Vancouver Island, was serving with the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
He was killed Wednesday afternoon while Canadian soldiers were on routine foot patrol near the village of Nakhonay, looking for insurgent "transit routes." The village was a Taliban supply point until November, when Canadian Forces mounted an operation to secure and hold the area.
Nuttall's platoon was living near the village — part of a new Canadian counter-insurgency strategy to develop closer relationships with the Afghan population.
In recent weeks, Walsh said many locals have told Canadian soldiers where insurgents were planting bombs in the area.
"We've had countless locals come and show us where improvised explosive devices were located," he said. "We are having great success in that regard, so this has come as a bit of a surprise to us."
Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan, said Thursday the patrol was "part of our efforts to protect the people of the village from insurgents."
"Andrew came to Afghanistan because he honestly believed that he could make a difference to the people of Afghanistan, and he demonstrated that every time he went on patrol," said Menard.
An Afghan soldier, who has not been identified, also died in the blast. An interpreter was injured in the incident.
Nuttall's death marks the end of a month-and-a-half-long period of relative calm for Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
A Canadian Forces soldier hasn't died since October 30 when Sapper Steven Marshall, an Edmonton-based combat engineer, was killed by a landmine in the Panjwaii district.
On Thursday, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said in a statement Nuttall's death comes at a difficult time of year, as Canadians celebrate the holiday season.
"It is a harsh reminder of the enormous sacrifices our soldiers and their loved ones have agreed to make so that stability and security can be re-established in a dangerous region of the world," she said.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell also issued a statement, offering his condolences to the soldier's family. "We are thankful for the courage, bravery and dedication he demonstrated in service to his country and to his fellow Canadians," Campbell said.
"During this season of family and togetherness, the loss of this brave soldier is a reminder of the sacrifices made by the dedicated men and women who work to safeguard our freedoms."
Nuttall is the son of a prominent Victoria doctor and nurse, Richard and Ethel Jane Nuttall, who have helped establish medical clinics in developing countries.
Those who knew him described Nuttall as a "superb athlete" who enjoyed cold-water surfing, teaching and working as a disc jockey.
"Andrew shared a passion for many things," said Padre Steve Defer, speaking at the ramp ceremony.
"He loved the outdoors and he loved to surf. The waves at Tofino on Vancouver Island will never be the same."
If you would like to leave a message of condolence, enter it in the comment section and I shall transfer it below.
"I would like to express my profound condolences to the families and friends of Lieutenant Andrew Richard Nuttall, who died as the result of an improvised explosive device detonating near his patrol. Our thoughts are with the family of the Afghan National Army soldier who was killed and the ISAF interpreter who was injured during the same tragic incident. Lieutenant Andrew Richard Nuttall was an extraordinary Canadian who will always deserve recognition and respect of his ultimate sacrifice for this nation." ~Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence
Once again, the entire country is in mourning. Lieutenant Andrew Richard Nuttall from the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was killed when an anti-personnel mine exploded. A soldier from the Afghan National Army also died and an Afghan interpreter was injured. My husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I are deeply saddened. This death comes at the end of a particularly difficult year and as we begin the holiday season, an important time for families.
It is a harsh reminder of the enormous sacrifices our soldiers and their loved ones have agreed to make so that stability and security can be re-established in a dangerous region of the world and to help people who have been deprived of their most fundamental rights, distressed by years of violence and oppression.
It is a harsh reminder that, day and night, despite successive attacks and the loss of their comrades, our soldiers continue to take enormous risks, and to work in and patrol mined areas of Afghanistan in the name of justice and freedom.
We will never forget Lieutenant Nuttall, his courage, his generous spirit, his sense of duty and dedication, or the ultimate sacrifice he made. At this extremely difficult time, our thoughts are with his family, his loved ones and his comrades. Our thoughts are also with all Canadian military personnel deployed abroad, far away from their families. ~Michaelle Jean
It breaks my heart but I am so incredibly thankful that there are young men and women willing to put their lives on the line to serve our country like this. I am not involved in the military myself - have no family or friends in the Forces - but feel a swelling of pride and grief and gratitude every time I read about one of our soldiers being lost in Afghanistan. Love and hugs to this brave man's family during what will no doubt be an excruciating Christmas season.~S
What heart-breaking news today, and in this season a jarring reminder of sacrifice, hope and the ultimate gift a human being can bestow on the rest of us. My deepest condolences to Lt. Nutall's family, friends and military colleagues. I will take what comfort I can in the knowledge that his work on this earth is done, his contribution exceeds that which most of us can even contemplate, he has gone to a better place and we are all forever in his debt. Let's carry this brave man and all his fallen colleagues in our hearts forever. Love and respect always. ~Jordana Mars
As a mother of a soldier currently in Afghanistan I am heartbroken to hear of his death. He was truly a hero and our thoughts and prayers got out to his family and friends. I can't imagine what they are going through, especially at this time of the year. Never to be forgotten... Anonymous
It is simply heartbreaking for all of us who pray daily for our young men and women serving.... Canada's loses a beloved son at the time we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.... I was looking at his photo collection and reading his blogs and it's like he's our son as well. What a beautiful young soul and he will be terribly missed. My heart and prayers go out to his family, friends and community. Andrew has the sweetest smile.... and his whole face lights up... it truly hurts deeply to lose a Canadian son. Peace of Christ ~ Old momma Nova.