Canadian general escaped suicide bombing

Blast killed colonel in same convoy

By Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service May 20, 2010

A Canadian Forces general narrowly escaped death in the same suicide car bombing that killed Canadian Col. Geoff Parker and 17 others in Kabul on Tuesday.

Brig.-Gen. Andre Corbould -- who is to become deputy commander for NATO operations in southeastern Afghanistan this fall -- two other Canadian officers and a corporal were in the five-vehicle convoy with Parker when a suicide bomber exploded a minivan loaded with nearly a tonne of explosives. None of the other Canadians were injured in the blast.

Aside from Parker, five American soldiers and 12 Afghan civilians were killed in the explosion.

Parker was to have taken up a position co-ordinating humanitarian aid and development across southern Afghanistan at the same time that Corbould was to become deputy commander of RC South, which has its headquarters at Kandahar Airfield.

Along with an American colonel killed in the same blast, Parker was the highest ranking NATO officer to have died in Afghanistan since U.S. forces invaded the country in the fall of 2001.

Parker was on a fairly typical mission in Kabul for officers soon to be deployed to Afghanistan when the convoy was hit near Canada's old base in Kabul. It was closed when the former Liberal government of Paul Martin government turned its military focus to Kandahar four years ago.

Parker was in the Afghan capital with some of those he was to work with when he took up his duties as deputy director for stability for NATO's Regional Command South. The posting at Kandahar Airfield was to have been for one year.

Parker was "hand-picked" by the Canadian Army for the RC South posting, according to Col. Simon Hetherington, deputy commander of Task Force Kandahar. Parker was to have replaced Col. Jim Wall, a Canadian engineer currently serving with NATO at its main southern base at Kandahar Airfield.

"He was really, really smart and had a huge capacity to get things done," Hetherington said Wednesday of his friend, whom he first got to know during a year that they spent together in Toronto on a course for senior officers. They were later posted together at CFB Petawawa in the Upper Ottawa Valley where their wives became good friends.

"Geoff's wife, M. J, ran the show, that's for sure, and I mean that in a very good way," Hetherington said. "This is going to be tough for everyone. He was a great family man."

Four other Canadians were in the same convoy as Parker. The other Canadians were not injured in the blast.

Parker was born and raised in Oakville, Ont. The 42-year-old career infantry officer had been based since last summer at CFB Downsview in Toronto, where he worked for Land Forces Central Area. Before that he commanded 2nd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment, in Gagetown, N.B.

Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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