strengthen base in Kandahar
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 The Halifax Herald Limited
By Terry Pedwell / The Canadian Press
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Soldiers are fortifying the
compound that is home to Canada's new provincial
reconstruction team in Afghanistan, braving the Kandahar heat
to further prevent potential attacks from Taliban and al-Qaida
Military engineers erected razor wire around the PRT
compound's inner perimeter Tuesday as steel mesh security
barriers were filled with sand and rock inside the camp's
Most of the work has been done in the early morning hours to
take advantage of slightly cooler temperatures. By lunch hour,
the sun bakes the compound, with the heat reaching 45 C or
An American team, also known as a PRT, has used the compound
since late 2002, but focused more of its attention on
protecting people travelling outside the camp, said Lieut.
Andrew Bone, one of the Canadian Forces members responsible
"(The Americans) had a smaller contingent here with a
different mission. They didn't have the manpower to go out and
start putting up the wire.
"We're doing it because we can, and that gives us more
security in this location."
U.S. forces did have some protective measures in place, and
American officials said they felt relatively secure within the
compound walls. But Canada's military wanted more, said Capt.
Kerri Iwanonkiw, an engineer with the PRT.
"They did have barbed wire on top of the walls. We just
wanted to make it a little more stable and more secure,"
The U.S. team had fewer than 100 people. Canada's PRT has 250
soldiers, and will soon include members of the RCMP, Foreign
Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency.
The PRT is Canada's newest foray into Afghanistan's volatile
southern Kandahar region, with an aim of improving security in
the region and helping to rebuild local and national
The added security measures for the camp might reassure
soldiers inside, but their biggest worry lies on the other
side of the wire.
A major potential threat comes from the use of improvised
explosive devices, what the military refers to as IEDs.
"That's the biggest fear," Bone said
Canadian troops in Kandahar
aim to win 'hearts and minds' of Afghans
By Terry Pedwell (CP)
July 29, 2005
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian
soldiers have begun deploying to their new home in
Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar region - a site that so far
looks more like a druglord's compound from a low budget
Mexican b-movie than a military camp.
"Well, it's different (than
Edmonton)," said Pte. Charlie Burge as his eyes wandered
for the first time around the location of Canada's first
provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan.
The compound, just outside Kandahar, will house about 250
soldiers, along with RCMP officers, foreign affairs and
international development workers, who started arriving this
week at the nearby U.S.-run Kandahar air field.
Canada is taking over the site from the U.S. military, which
has housed a team of roughly 100 people there. Most of the
Americans - and some Romanian soldiers - remain at the camp
while the Canadians move in, so space is at a premium.
To make room for the soldiers who began arriving Friday,
Canada has set up several weather havens, oval-shaped,
enclosed tent-like structures that are all too familiar to
soldiers at Camp Julien in Kabul, north of Kandahar.
Others, however, are being crammed into small cement rooms
inside rustic warehouse buildings within the walled compound.
Military engineers have been working feverishly to add space,
and in particular to increase the capacity of the site's
sewage treatment system and power grid.
They'll also need a new kitchen, after discovering that it
will be too difficult to expand the existing food service
For now, though, increasing the size
of the camp has been a bit like trying to renovate a house
while the owners are still living in it, said Capt. Robin
Keith of the Canadian Forces' 1st Engineering Support Unit.
"It's always more difficult to do renovations,
particularly since the Americans are still living here, said
Keith, who has been working seven-day weeks since being
brought into the camp in early July from Moncton, N.B.
Tonnes of materials have been shipped into the camp to make
the changes. Some things, such as electrical generators, were
sent over from Canada in June.
Much of the rest has been taken from
Camp Julien, which is being slowly torn down as Canada moves
its main operations in Afghanistan.
"One of the biggest challenges was getting the material
in, because we put in a 60 Hz electrical system, and that
material had to come from Canada, said Keith.
An estimated 1,500 soldiers will bolster the numbers of
Canadians in the Kandahar area by February, although it's
expected they will have to establish a new, much larger camp.
Leaving the worries of creature
comforts to others, many of the soldiers moving into the site
this week are looking beyond the compound walls, thinking
about the challenges ahead, and how they can make a difference
in the lives of local residents.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier has maintained that
the military's approach in Kabul - a campaign aimed at winning
the hearts and minds of local residents - can also work in
Kandahar, despite a much greater risk of attacks by insurgents
and continued U.S. military operations in a region that was
the birthplace of the Taliban.
"We're hoping it'll work,"
said Pte. Burge, as he pondered the task Canadians face.
"Don't go in with a kick-in-the-doors attitude," is
the way he sees it.
"Taking a friendly approach with the locals," he
"Not necessarily going by their
rules, but at least respecting their way of life."
His first tour of duty as a soldier, Burge, 30, hopes his wife
Nicole will continue supporting his work in Afghanistan over
the coming six months.
"She understands that this is
what I joined to do," he said.
"She's been really supportive, and hopefully she remains
In July 2005, a Theatre Activation Team
of about 220 personnel from the Canadian Forces Joint
Operations Group based in Kingston arrived in Kandahar to
provide the support and install the infrastructure necessary
for the arrival of the PRT.
Starting in August 2005, a Canadian Provincial Reconstruction
Team begins operations in Kandahar, where it is expected to
remain for 18 months. The PRT brings together personnel from
the Canadian Forces (CF), Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), the
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in an integrated Canadian
Under Operation ARCHER, the Canadian contribution to Operation
ENDURING FREEDOM, the PRT will reinforce the authority of
the Afghan government in and around Kandahar and help
stabilize and rebuild the region. It will also help monitor
security, promote Afghan government policies and priorities
with local authorities, and facilitate security sector
The PRT is being established in Kandahar City, and some of its
support elements will operate from Kandahar International
Airport. The PRT will include about 250 soldiers, drawn
largely from Land Forces Western Area and 1 Canadian
Mechanized Brigade Group based in Edmonton, Alberta:
- An infantry
company from the 3 rd Battalion, Princess Patricia
Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI);
- An engineer
squadron from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER);
- A combat
support company from 1 Service Battalion (1 Svc Bn) and 1
General Support Battalion (1 GS Bn);
- Health and
medical support from 1 Field Ambulance (1 Fd Amb); and
specialized elements from various CF units.
The PRT will also help lay the
groundwork for future Canadian missions in Kandahar with a
view to creating a stable society under Afghan governance.
also comprises a small cadre of CF instructors helping train
the Afghan National Army at Camp Julien.