Armoured columns of edgy Canadian troops rumbled Sunday into the town where an axe-wielding teenager nearly killed a Canadian soldier.
The soldiers first sealed off the mountain town, cutting off all exit routes and sending scouts high into the mountains to prevent the potential escape of any insurgents.
Along with the Afghan National army, the troops made a house-to-house search that yielded only two shotguns and ended with the brief interrogation of a suspect who was carrying Pakistani cash...
The show of force was a markedly different operation from the meeting a week ago when Capt. Trevor Greene sat down for a friendly gathering of townsmen...
The village elders were gathered together when Croucher told them their town was about to be searched inside-and-out.
"It was a little tense," said Capt. John Croucher, the platoon commander who led troops into the village.
"That's the second time I went to that village. I'll be honest, the
first time I went in there it was a laissez-faire attitude. When I went back this time Trevor's incident was in the back of my mind. It was there, I was worried about my guys."
Is the military justified in conducting house to house raids, coupled with an intimidating show of force? No doubt it is under the circumstances, but the signal it sends is counter-productive and will only cultivate hostility. The villagers have essentially been violated by the foreign army, while the Canadians are suspicious of the villagers true allegiance. This distrust is inevitable, as shown in every military operation over history that attempts to suppress a homegrown insurgency. The problem is, despite the diplomatic overtures, your mission is too kill Afghans and that has consequences.
With each attack, Canadian troops will inevitably become more paranoid and suspicious of the people they are supposed to engage. With each search, detainment, firefight the people begin to turn on the "foreigners", in effect developing sympathy for the insurgency that didn't exist previously. Today's return to the same village is a minor development in the grand scheme. But, if you look at the changed dynamic in such short order, you are justified in wondering if this isn't a precursor of things to come.