Op Athena Rotation 1February 2004 – August 2004:
3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment. (3 R22eR) Battalion Group
Canadians' Camp Julien up for sale as Ottawa weighs options in AfghanistanBy Les Perreaux February 23, 2004
Kabul (CP) - For sale: One Canadian army camp on a prime piece of Afghan real estate, complete with clean water supply, sewage system, hot showers and bunker space for 2,400.
Camp Julien, the main Canadian base in Afghanistan, is up for sale about six months after it was built at a cost of $42 million Cdn. The camp has another $50 million in nearly new tents, kitchens, generators, toilets, showers, and water and sewage systems - all portable items that can be had for the right price.
Officials from NATO and the U.S. army have expressed interest in the base, but negotiations are far from complete. If no deal is found, Camp Julien could be nearly empty when the Canadian contingent of 2,100 soldiers is reduced in August to about 500. The government has yet to announce what role new troops will play or where they will live. Canada also has Camp Warehouse, a smaller base housing about 400 soldiers near the Kabul airport.
In recent days, U.S. soldiers have inspected Camp Julien. About 250 of their troops will move in over the next month to take advantage of extra space. The soldiers are instructors who work with Canadians to train a nearby brigade of Afghan troops.
Col. Alain Tremblay, the commanding officer of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, said a number of options remain open, but he is confident most of the construction cost will be recovered in a sale or lease arrangement.
"It's quite an appealing piece of real estate," Tremblay said Monday, adding that the camp would need to be sold in the next 60 to 90 days.
"I don't think this is going to be a gift to anyone, obviously," he said. "The intent is to prepare ourselves for another mission, one way or another."
One option would be to pack up the camp and move it back to a storage base in Italy "if nobody is willing to pay the right price," Tremblay said. Another would be to leave the 500 troops there and lease out part of the camp.
The equipment at the camp had previously been used in Kosovo and Eritrea.
"It was a long endeavour to build that capability for Canada," Tremblay said. "We're not willing to let it fade away." Camp Julien sits in a former battlefield on a plateau between two bombed-out Kabul landmarks, the so-called King's and Queen's palaces.
When troops from the 1 Engineer Support Unit arrived from Moncton, N.B., in June, they found a field that had recently been cleared of landmines. They levelled the field and dumped about $2-million worth of dirt and gravel to help drainage and to leave any leftover mines under about 70 centimetres of cover.
The engineers surrounded the base with thick walls made out of cloth and steel-mesh sand containers, each about half the size of a garbage dumpster. A long fence of corrugated steel was put on top to block the view to potential snipers.
Turrets and bunkers were built in case the base ever came under attack. The Canadian military flew in about $50 million in temporary buildings, including a modern hospital with an operating room and X-ray machine and three kitchens that each serve about 700 people at every meal.
A few dozen bathrooms that fold into one truck-sized shipping container arrived with flush toilets and hot showers. Each costs about $100,000. The army also set up several hundred tents for offices and sleeping quarters. The tents cost about $20,000 each and are well insulated against the Afghan winter.
As a bonus to any potential buyer, army weather forecasters say prevailing winds tend to push dust and other air pollution from Kabul away from the camp.
The most valuable part of the camp may be water and sewage systems that are designed to meet Canadian environmental standards, said Maj. Dave Lauckner, a combat engineer with 5 Mechanized Brigade, based in Valcartier, Que. While Kabul has little clean water, three wells at Camp Julien have enough capacity to supply 6,000 soldiers.
Engineers plan to start bottling water at the base to eliminate the $90,000-per-month expense of importing water from Dubai or Pakistan.
The base is the best equipped in Afghanistan and the only foreign military camp in western Kabul, Lauckner said. Experienced soldiers say it is the best camp Canadian soldiers have had in decades.
"It's unfortunate a lot of the brand-new soldiers think this is the standard," Lauckner said. "But this is by far the best and most expensive camp we've constructed. But we've had 10 years of practice in Bosnia, Eritrea and Kosovo."
Some senior U.S. soldiers about to move in say they admire the base for its modern hospital and strong defensive measures. "The camp is outstanding," said Sgt.-Maj. Joe Stover of the 179 Infantry Division based in Oklahoma. Stover's unit is in Afghanistan to train the national army.
"It's at the starting point of the valley, so we have easy access in and out," Stover said. "I believe it is a well-defended camp.
"And the dining facility is excellent."
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.
Soldiers' life in Club Med Kabul mixes fine food, sports and deadly dangersVancouver Sun reporter Frances Bula will spend two months following Canada's troops in Afghanistan. This is the latest of her dispatches for CanWest News Service.
Saturday, February 28, 2004
CAMP JULIEN, Afghanistan -- It's a bipolar world for soldiers here -- a mission that is the most luxurious and the most dangerous they've experienced.
On the one hand, it's Camp Club Med Kabul, complete with classes in everything from spinning to cardio box, personal trainers, astronomy and stock-picking clubs, gourmet food that's brought in from around the world, Internet cafes and computer-gaming rooms for the 2,000 troops.
On the other hand, those here, from support staff to veteran soldiers, say this mission is one that's dangerous and tense in a way they've never experienced.
It's because it's such a high-stress mission that the army has gone out of its way to provide unique five-star service to its soldiers.
"You need that type of heaven which the camp provides to allow them to decompress," says Colonel Alain Tremblay, in charge of Task Force Kabul.
In the most ambitious post-Sept. 11 mission the Canadian army has undertaken, the soldiers in Kabul are exposed to an unrelenting threat even when not on patrol.
Warrant Officer Mario Lakatos has been to Bosnia twice and Timor once with the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment. In Bosnia, he got trapped, with nine others, at an outpost in the mountains that was shelled by factions above them. In Timor there were the bugs, the heat, the terrible food, and an unusual illness that drained people of energy.
It's different here, where several British, German and Canadian soldiers have already been killed by suicide bombers or deliberately planted landmines.
"In Bosnia, it was war. Here, it's terrorism," says the wiry 41-year-old. "You have to be vigilant all the time. It's things we can't see that are dangerous."
The training Lakatos got before coming to Afghanistan emphasized he had to be wary of anyone: a child offering a crayon, a taxi coming up alongside, someone who seems to be asking a lot of personal questions like how many children he has or where he lives. That person could be a potential hostage-taker who is trying to get information that can be used to send terrorizing messages to the hostage's family.
Every patrol is a four- to six-hour exercise in high alert, where it's clear that, although some people are happy to see them, others are not.
One foot patrol found itself face to face with a man holding an AK-47 and there were several tense seconds before everyone realized no one was going to shoot.
Even people who don't mean to do harm could end up killing them. Children have been known to approach soldiers while holding landmines -- one recently blew himself up as he approached a group of Canadians with an explosive in his hand.
Captain Nicole Godin, the senior nursing officer at the camp hospital, finds the mission far more stressful than anything she's ever been through before.
"The other missions, I never got shot at. This one, you do," said Godin, a 25-year armed forces member who has previously been to Bosnia and the support camp in Dubai to Canada's troops in Kandahar during the war here.
She'd never even had to wear her flak jacket or helmet outside the camp in other missions. Now, that's an absolute requirement, and there are also regular drills inside the camp to get everyone to practise running to the nearest bunker and putting equipment on as fast as they can.
She's only been off the base once, to visit the medical facilities at the other, smaller Canadian base near the airport, and she found it stomach-wrenching.
Although she takes some pride in the experience -- "now I'm a real soldier" -- she also says the camp feels more like a minimum-security jail than anywhere else she's been. In Bosnia, she could at least go for a walk in the mountains nearby. Here, no one is allowed to go for even the smallest stroll beyond the gates in this heavily mined and unpredictable country. The mountains all around are beautiful but completely out of bounds.
"You can't even walk outside," says Godin. "It's just like prison in a way."
That's where the Club Med part of the mission becomes important.
Although services for Canadian forces on peacekeeping missions have been improving steadily over the years, people here say they've reached new heights.
Tremblay said the army urged Ottawa to treat this as a special mission that needed more services because of the situation soldiers would be facing.
"It was acknowledged that to alleviate some of the pressure of some of that stress, we had to go a little bit further."
Several factors worked in favour of this camp. The real estate was there, the mission was long enough and large enough so it could achieve economies of scale, and the army had lots of advance planning time.
So, despite other financial troubles the armed forces may be having, there's no been no stinting here.
The year-long mission has budgeted $1.4 million just for recreation activities. That includes three instructors who teach yoga, aerobics, step, and spinning classes, among others, along with providing personal training. The equipment bill for the gym alone for the next six months, to replace cross-trainers, treadmills, step machines and stationary bicycles that have broken down due to the high dust factor, is close to $400,000. The recreation budget also includes $30,000 for books and DVDs, which help supplement the two radio stations transmitted here, BEAR from Ottawa and the Top 40s station CHIC-FM from Quebec City, and the televisions carrying a range of Canadian and American programming in both social messes and the gym.
The welfare office also provides someone to coordinate clubs. With the arrival of the 22nd Regiment, there's been a new club sign-up that includes rock-climbing, done in a small shed built for that purpose, carpentry, four language classes including the local Dari, chess, photography and volleyball.
For those with other interests, there are 40 computers available in the Internet cafe or the 16 computer-game stations in a collection of pre-fab buildings. They stand next to the ball-hockey and basketball court that has become popular as the weather has suddenly turned spring-like, in the brief pause between Kabul's frigid winter and its convection-oven summer.
For the final touch, there's the food.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are brought in from all over -- strawberries from Egypt, bananas from South America, tomatoes from Israel. A typical dinner has a couple of main courses, such as duck a l'orange or honey garlic ribs, vegetables, pastas and potatoes of various descriptions, four or five salads, and a selection of desserts that might include a cherry pie, two kinds of chocolate cake, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, pumpkin mousse and sesame cookies.
With the arrival of the Quebec-based regiment, camp services manager Tim Clinton said the menu has been adjusted for their tastes: poutine; beef bourguignon, duck or tourtiere and more cheeses imported from Europe.
Clinton, who works with the private company PTI International supplying the food services, said the company is given a budget of about $20-25 a day per person to provide the lavish spread.
"It's almost like a five-star restaurant. I wasn't expecting that," says Sergeant Gerry Pilote, a photographer with Combat Camera who spent her previous stint in Kandahar eating pre-packaged U.S. Army military rations.
Those here say it's important to have distractions.
Godin has joined the rock-climbing and Dari clubs. Lakatos works out twice a day, for a total of three hours.
"I like to be as busy as possible," says Lakatos, explaining why with the phrase common to many here -- "pour changer mes idees." To get himself thinking about something else besides the patrol he just did or the one he'll do next.
© The Vancouver Sun 2004
Bomb squad has tough job in heavily mined countryVancouver Sun, Monday march 15, 2004
Vancouver Sun reporter Frances Bula is spending two months following Canada’s troops in Afghanistan. This is the latest of her dispatches for CanWest News Service.
KABUL — Cpl. Erica Oliver pauses a second as she stands at the back of the super-sized truck, studying the dinnerplate-sized brown metal canister in her hands.
“This is the one that blew up our guys in October,” Oliver comments, as she hands it down to her co-worker. He takes it, walks carefully down the steep, gritty slope of the deep pit behind him, and places it gently on the ground.
At the bottom of the pit, there is already a tidily stacked cube of rockets, mortars and other hunks of metal filled with high explosives. On one side of the pile, four thermo-barracks are lined up — long, thick tubes filled with a napalmlike substance that kills by spreading a mist through the air that catches fire. On the other, a collection of two dozen mines as varied as planets.
Some are large, like the anti-tank mine that Oliver noticed was similar to the one that killed Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger and Sgt. Robert Short as they drove along a road here last fall. Others are smaller, discs the size of a smoke detector, Italian anti-personnel mines no bigger than a roll of tape, the kind that can take off a foot, a hand, a leg.
All of this is what Oliver, Sgt. Denis Patenaude, and the rest of their team have collected from villages, parks, and roadsides over the past few weeks.
While infantry troops patrol the city, it is teams of field engineers like this one that have the special job here of dealing with any kind of explosive device, either traditional, manufactured ones or nontraditional gizmos dreamt up by people looking for any way to make an explosion.
If the teams can, they move what they find into storage for future destruction. If not, it’s the job of people like Patenaude to figure out how to deal with it on the spot.
Either way, it can be a nasty job.
The day before today’s blow-up festival, Oliver and the others had to dig one store of arms that villagers had stored and reported to them out from under a shack used as the village outhouse. That’s typical — Afghans cover any arms or mines they find with excrement to prevent children from playing with them.
They do it for a good reason. A hundred children are maimed or killed every month by mines in this country as they chase soccer balls into fields or pick up what looks like just another piece of scrap metal among the piles lying around. Since Canadian troops arrived last August, soldiers have seen two children blow to pieces in front of their eyes, one of them last week.
Today, Patenaude’s team will spend six hours out on this barren mountain slope inhabited only by swarms of flies — Kabul’s weapons-demolition range — unloading the hundreds of pounds of small arms, rockets, and mines they’ve found and then preparing to destroy them. As carefully as cooks putting together wedding cakes, they construct piles in two pits. For the small-arms pile, which consists of several hundred pounds of metal heaped into a cardboard box that looks as though it could have held something the size of a stuffed chair, they sprinkle the grey, gravel-like explosive Tigran between layers of the metal, then top it with a layer of bars of plastic explosives carefully wrapped in yellow detonation cord. Patenaude wires all the dangling yellow cords together in an elaborate web.
Finally, at 3:01, they detonate the two piles one after the other. Watching from a bunker 400 metres away, the group hoots with pleasure as the explosion goes off. A brown cloud of dust and pulverized metal foams into the air, while the bunker shudders and a few whitehot burning hunks of metal land.
So — 250 kilos of explosives gone. Only an infinity more to go in this country that is among the most heavily mined in the world.
“You come here full of piss and vinegar, thinking you’re going to change the world,” says Oliver. “Then you realize you’re not going to change anything in six months. You just do what you can.”
Arms cache destroyed in Afghan cavesU.S. forces guide Canadians. More than 300 projectiles eliminated by members of Valcartier regiment
STEPHEN THORNE CP
Monday, May 03, 2004
Guided by U.S. Special Forces, Canadian engineers and infantrymen ventured far outside their operations area yesterday, exploring caves filled with ordnance and destroying more than 300 lethal projectiles.
The Americans discovered the cache a month ago distributed among 30 caves deep in mountains west of Kabul, 27 kilometres beyond the zone traditionally patrolled by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Most of the mortars, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades were concentrated in three of the larger caves, and monitoring by the U.S. troops revealed some were disappearing almost daily.
"We think that there is somebody who knows it's here," said the Canadian platoon commander, Lieut. Philip Grandia, 24, of Kamloops, B.C. "Every time (the Americans) would come back, they'd find fewer and fewer munitions.
"We want to get it done right away just in case somebody's taking it out."
The operation was one of two occurring during the weekend in which the Canadians - at 2,300 troops, ISAF's largest contingent - ventured well outside the NATO boundary.
A Canadian-led multinational mechanized force returned yesterday from a long-range reconnaissance patrol, during which it visited 12 communities far beyond NATO lines northeast of Kabul since Friday.
NATO plans to expand into so-called provincial reconstruction teams, or small stabilizing forces, in cities around Afghanistan. But the weekend's activities were the first Kabul-centred operations that ventured so far outside the capital.
Col. Alain Tremblay, commander of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan, said Kabul is relatively stable after 21/2 years and it was inevitable that ISAF would start "pushing the envelope and expanding our influence."
"We're adapting to the changing behaviour of the belligerents," he said. "We need to ... project power if we want to expand outside Kabul city per se and satisfy the mandate of ISAF.
"You will see those operations more and more. I suspect it will become the default type of operation, certainly for the next contingent coming to replace us in August."
In the mountains, the U.S. Special Forces troops said the cache probably belonged to the area's former warlord, who has been held at the U.S. base in Bagram since he was captured more than a month ago.
One of the Americans said the man was a former Taliban member, and a local Afghan said he was now a loyalist of terrorist Hekmatyar Gulbuddin, the man believed responsible for fatal attacks on Canadian and other ISAF forces.
The Americans said they had been all through extensive cave complexes in the area that took them back inside the mountains. They said they turned around and came out again before they ever reached the end.
"They (terrorists) are not doing the planning in Kabul," said one of the American SF, who did not want to be identified. "They're doing the planning in places like this. The onus is on us to come out here and get 'em."
Members of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment out of Valcartier, prepared more than 120 half-kilogram sticks of C-4 explosive in a daisy chain linked by detonator cord and fuses, then distributed it over stacks of munitions both inside and outside the first of the three main caves. The L-shaped cave is about 15 metres deep and less than two metres high.
Sgt. Steve Bolduc, an engineer from Gaspe, has found and destroyed more than 500 munitions since arriving in Kabul almost three months ago. He said yesterday's find was the biggest so far.
"It's a good feeling," Bolduc said. "It's the first time two sections of (ordnance disposal) have done that. That's a great feeling to see what's going to happen with a lot of explosives like that."
The explosion did not collapse the cave, however. And secondary explosions continued for almost an hour after the initial blast.
For a while, the Canadians thought they were under mortar attack. Dutch Apache attack helicopters were put on standby before the engineers realized ordnance was still exploding inside the cave.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2004
French want to buy Canadian bottled water in KabulTuesday, July 27, 2004 The Halifax Herald
By STEPHEN THORNE / The Canadian Press
KABUL - The country that brought the world Perrier wants to buy glacial well water bottled by the Canadian military in Afghanistan.
France, which popularized "designer" water in the 1970s, says its military in Kabul is spending too much importing H2O from Europe. It is making a bid to buy about 2,000 litres a day from the main Canadian base, Camp Julien.
While most of the 30-odd countries serving with NATO's International Security Assistance Force import their water from the Persian Gulf, France has been flying its water in from Europe - at a cost of 3.40 Euros a litre (about $5.50 Cdn).
The Canadians, who draw their water from just one of the base's three deep wells, expect bottling costs to plummet and will offer the water to the French for about a fifth or less of what they now are paying.
The operation, run by Cancap, a subsidiary of Montreal-based SNC Lavalin, is aiming to produce 9,000 litres a day, just as the 1,600 Canadian troops based at Julien are replaced by a smaller number of Canadians and Europeans.
"With the downsizing of Camp Julien and the contingent, it appears we've got more water than what we need," said Maj. Dave Lauckner, the contingent's chief engineer. "It's not really a burden on us because we're producing it anyway.
"In the event the French contingent got bigger and we had to sell them more water and had to put on a third shift, we'd have to raise the price accordingly."
The Canadian army's water system in Kabul is unique in the military world and could be the envy of virtually any North American city.
Canadian combat engineers drilled the three 90-metre wells last year, hitting huge aquifers - or underground lakes - that can each yield between 290 and 330 cubic metres a day, so much water, in fact, that 40 per cent is returned to the ground.
That's despite the fact that the water is allocated at 100 litres per day per soldier, for drinking, showering, laundry, toilets and cooking.
There has been no appreciable drop in the water table since the wells were drilled, said Lauckner.
Copyright © 2004 The Halifax Herald Limited
Combat engineers discover weapons cache next to Canadian base in AfghanistanJuly 29, 2004
By STEPHEN THORNE
KABUL (CP) - Canadian combat engineers have discovered a sizable arms cache right under their noses - in the basement of a ruin just 250 metres from their base camp.
An Afghan National Army soldier matter-of-factly mentioned the cache of rockets, mortars and other ordnance in a conversation with Canadian soldiers on Wednesday.
"It's pretty big for us but, for them, it was like nothing," said Sgt. Martin Drolet, a combat engineer originally from Quebec City. "They just said 'take it away.' They didn't care about it."
The engineers were checking out reports of two unexploded rockets half a kilometre away when the cache was brought to their attention. The rockets were harmless - they had no warheads - but the cache was another story.
"It was in the basement at the bottom of the stairs in an old building," said Drolet. "It was all rubble. It was all piled up and all mixed up too.
"It wasn't very safe the way that they had stored it, but it's OK for them, I guess. Most of the Afghan troops didn't even know it was there."
Drolet said he was told it was an old Taliban cache. The stockpile included 86 Soviet-made 73-mm rockets, eight
Chinese-made 82-mm rockets, three Soviet 82-mm high-explosive mortars and three Soviet 73-mm recoilless rifle rounds, plus fuses, grenades and a variety of other rockets.
Found adjacent to an ANA compound just west of Camp Julien, almost all were in "perfect working condition," said Capt. Rejean Cote of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Valcartier, Que.
In fact, some were even still wrapped in protective plastic from the factory.
Engineers tallied their haul on Thursday and moved it to a storage area for demolition later this week.
The rockets are similar to those that have been used against NATO's International Security Assistance Force. On Tuesday, two landed in an Afghan militia compound less than five kilometres south of Camp Julien, the main Canadian base in Kabul.
Only one exploded - in an ammunition depot, causing a spectacular secondary blast 25 minutes later. A third rocket was later fired from the same area east-northeast of Camp Julien, exploding near the Chinese Embassy downtown.
No one was injured in either incident.
There were other sharp reminders this week of the instability in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, a bomb exploded in a mosque in Andar, 150 kilometres southwest of Kabul, where Afghans were registering for upcoming elections, killing at least two people and seriously wounding two others.
And the relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres - Doctors Without Borders - announced it was pulling out of Afghanistan, discouraged by a fruitless investigation into the slayings of five of its workers and fearful of new attacks.
On Thursday, Afghan police sealed off a main road in Kabul, saying they had found a bomb on the back of a motorcycle and another in a fruit cart.
Anti-government militants are blamed for many such attacks. Recently, Taliban-led militants have condemned the country's first direct national election scheduled for October and threatened anyone taking part.
Lt.-Col. Stephane Roy, commander of the 700-member Royal 22nd Regiment Battle Group, said there is a clear link between the accessibility of weapons and attacks on friendly forces and other internationals in Kabul.
"There are thousands and thousands of UXOs (unexploded ordnance), munitions and weapons inside Kabul, outside Kabul and in the country as a whole," said Roy. "These can be captured by outside forces and used against ISAF."
He said Afghanistan's Northern Alliance forces swept into Kabul rapidly during the war that ousted the Taliban almost three years ago.
"I would guess the Taliban pretty much left their weapons where they lay. They're not guarded. Some people know where they are. Others, by chance, we discover."
There was no security on the weapons found Wednesday, said Drolet, a field engineer with the combat engineer detachment assigned to the battle group. "Anybody could have come and helped themselves."
The Canadians have recovered and destroyed 40 tonnes of ordnance during their six-month tour, which is drawing to a close in the next three weeks.
They have found even bigger caches in deep caves among mountains further west of the Afghan capital. Ordnance, including mines, has also been seized in raids on compounds with Kabul City Police and national security forces.
Cote, a native of Bonaventure on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula, said he expects international peacemakers will be finding caches for years to come.
"Take it this way: They're still finding ammunition from the First World War in Europe," he said. "And the war was longer here (25 years compared with four years). There's stuff everywhere."
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.
Canada to store Afghan military equipmentBy STEPHEN THORNE, August 3, 2004
KABUL (CP) - The Canadian army is storing some unused equipment in Afghanistan rather than move it home in case the federal government decides to extend or alter its peacemaking mission in the war-ravaged country.
Logistics and engineering specialists are currently in Kabul getting ready to scale down Canada's operation to accommodate about 700 soldiers instead of 2,000. They plan to begin transporting excess jeeps, armoured vehicles and other equipment Oct. 1 aboard leased Russian transport planes through Istanbul, where they will be washed and loaded aboard a ship destined for Montreal.
But some unused equipment will stay in the Afghan capital awaiting Ottawa's decision on what it will do once the current commitment ends next August, said the commander of the mission draw-down team, Lt.-Col. Richard Boivin.
"We're setting aside some very specific equipment for potential future missions that may be approved by the government," Boivin said in an interview Tuesday.
It is widely believed that Canada will extend and even expand its NATO commitment to Afghanistan beyond 2005, likely including one or more provincial reconstruction teams, or PRTs, to secure smaller Afghan cities.
Without specifying what has been put away, Boivin, a native of Jonquiere, Que., said some of the stored equipment is specific to PRTs.
"Although these missions have not been approved yet, we're making contingency plans just in case they're approved, then the material will be ready," he said. "If it's not, it will be sent back to Canada next year.
"It will save money from moving stuff back and forth."
Canada's fleet of Iltis jeeps, which has been replaced by armoured Mercedes G-Wagons, will stay in Kabul, where the 19-year-old unarmoured vehicles are to be given to Afghan authorities.
The rest of the unused equipment will be given a preliminary cleaning, then flown to Istanbul once the weather cools and the Ilyushin and Antonov aircraft that transport it can carry their maximum loads in the denser air.
A contractor at an intermediate staging base in Istanbul will then thoroughly wash the vehicles, radios, weapons and other equipment of their layers of Afghan dust in accordance with Agriculture Canada regulations.
In addition to preparing equipment for deployment back to Montreal and co-ordinating and synchronizing the move to coincide with the mission's transition, they are dismantling the Canadian annex at Camp Warehouse, home of what was until recently the Canadian-led Kabul Multi-National Brigade.
French and Germans will be moving into the area, while Canada will continue to run its main base at Camp Julien, now home to Canadians, Americans, Germans, Norwegians, Hungarians and Belgians.
Some other unused equipment not necessarily destined for PRTs, such as tenting and concertina wire, will also be stored in Kabul.
Boivin said the equipment is in relatively good shape, some of it after a year's hard use.
"Most of the equipment will require minimal repairs in Canada," he said.
"Some of the PRT equipment will be refurbished here in theatre using special teams and that will likely happen in September to ensure that if a PRT is deployed next year it will be totally serviceable."
The move by air to Turkey will take the entire month of October.
Copyright © 2004, CANOE, a division of Netgraphe Inc. All rights reserved.
3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment Battle Group departed Afghanistan after more than 3,800 patrols and 880 checkpoints conducted over six months.
The Canadian contingent completed 154 do-good projects around the war-torn city, spending more than $400,000 on such things as schools, orphanages, roads, culverts, police gear, water projects and garbage collection points.
The Canadians also administered two training courses to hundreds of city police, and five embedded trainers spent their tours with an Afghan National Army battalion.Combat engineers responded to 340 calls for disposal of explosive ordnance and 13 calls for planted bombs, known in military parlance as improvised explosive devices. The engineers destroyed 29,277 kilograms of ammunition.