Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar

"Desert Lions delivers a gritty, candid view of Canadian army mentors working to professionalize the Afghan National Army during the summer of 2010. The Desert Lions are a nine-man team deployed at Combat Outpost Lion in Nakhonay. Eight Canadians have been killed there in the past year. The heat is brutal, the living conditions are primitive and frustrations are numerous. Canadians and Afghans struggle to communicate with one another, but traces of humour abound. Tensions increase dramatically however following a deadly ambush on 22 August. The documentary depicts the immediate aftermath of this attack and its emotional aftershocks in the following weeks."
It's 1 hour long YouTube video, but worth every minute of your time. The full transcript can be found here.

Some thoughts below
  1. army reservists fighting in theatre; a progressive idea, especially when the Captain in the unit is a policeman back in Canada; quite sure a policing mindset (as compared to a combat mindset) is useful for counter-insurgency
  2. the raw living conditions really highlight how a long war puts additional pressure on logistics; simple things like laundry and rubbish come into play
  3. language and culture are key; the Canadian Corporal that speaks Urdu and is of Pakistani-origin is able to communicate with the Afghan troops without the need for interpretors, which is extremely important, as you cannot be too reliant on the field translators to provide accurate and truthful translation
  4. the cultural differences, and how the 2 forces adapt, is a lesson on patience
  5. the female commander in Nakhonay, shows that gender equality is alive and kicking in Canada; kudos to them
  6. the push-pull negotiations at the shura is a fascinating look into the tools of the trade used by both sides at the negotiation table; e.g. changing the topic, talking on after the shura, etc
  7. the long discussion between Captain Reintjes and Master Warrant is yet another look into team dynamics, on how the 2 works things out
  8. the reaction to the IED attack was measured and decisive; i.e. change to ops setup (getting engineer assets), and changing the terrain (clearing the vegetation in front of the camp)

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