Canadian soldiers here are trapped in a loop that has the fourth iteration of troops battling for the exactly the same ground their predecessors in southern Afghanistan fought to take.
“We essentially have to start from scratch, you know,” Brigadier-General Guy Laroche told The Globe and Mail this week in an interview at the main coalition base at Kandahar Air Field.
“Everything we have done in that regard is not a waste of time, but close to it, I would say.”
Canadians have been fighting and dying for the same pieces of ground in the same two volatile areas – the lush plains of the notorious Zhari and Panjwai districts that border the Arghandab River – just west of the provincial capital since February, 2006.
The pattern is always the same: The Canadians invariably win the military battle, send the Taliban and the various warlords and drug criminals who are their natural allies on the run, hand over to the fledgling Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and then find most of their hard-fought gains are lost in the fetid stew of corruption, ineptitude and tribal quarrels that remains the norm in this part of the country.
If those comments don't speak to a drastic re-think, I don't know what does. Laroche basically acknowledges the futility of trying to defeat the Taliban militarily, hardly a moral booster or a testament to justifiable loss of life. How many times have we heard the word "success" attached to a particular offensive? Sorry to say, but it begs the question, are people dying in vain, as opposed to the heroic rhetoric of the "support the troops" crowd?