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OH CANADA |

January 04, 2007

OH CANADA
Name: Doug Templeton
Posting date: 1/4/07
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Email: dtempleton14@yahoo.com

I've just recently returned from the beautiful and fruitful area of Afghanistan known as Kandahar. By beautiful I'm refering to the view from 25,000 feet as I sped away, and by fruitful I mean the ever-growing and popular crop known as the Poppy. Also known as 60% of Afghanistan's GNP, of which the government gets 0%.

I traveled there to train the Afghan National Army in a logistics skill set -- I'm one of a group of mobile trainers who go into harm's way to make sure the training course occurs at even the most remote locations. When I arrived at the NATO base I was completely surprised to find out that the Canadians have primary responsibility for security in that area. The truth is, I was surprised to find out that there was such a thing as a Canadian Army at all. Not only that, but a Canadian USO-type tour was there to perform. Always one for free entertainment I made my way out to the show, in weather approaching the freezing place on the old thermostat.

The show was fantastic. The Fables were the headliner band, along with a couple of comedians, some other singers, and three former contestants from the show "Rockstar INXS". Afterwards, this phenomenon of the existence of a Canadian Army still caught in my head, I was treated to some autographs from the performers. The comedian of the group seemed surprised to see an American in the line, and asked me what I thought about working alongside the Canadians. Before I could catch myself I responded, "Until I got here I didn't even know Canada had an Army. I thought of Canada as where Americans go to avoid our military." We all chuckled a bit. Then she asked how I thought things were going. Not one to miss an opportunity I responded, "Canada needs to send in the Mounties. They always get their man, and if they had been here earlier maybe old Osama would have been found by now."

Again we all laughed, and I went back to my Temporary Quarters (TENT) and realized what a great evening it had been. No war, no thinking about work, and above all I met some great people who came to a not-so-pleasant vacation spot to provide a much-needed break. They didn't care what country anyone was from, they just cared.

Comments

This breaks my heart. An American, I lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada!) for 14 years. They have a Navy, and Air Force AND a Coast Guard. They might be a large country with a small force, but they have heart. FYI, Canadaians were there to support us in the first Gulf War, too. I watched them leave the port of Halifax with tears in my eyes. I too probably grew up in the 60s thinking of Canada as the place where draft dodgers went to escape; but in the 80s I only met one. Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north!

Thank-you so much for this wonderful update on the contibution being made by Canada, and the support they are being given by Canadians in general.

My comments about not knowing Canada had an army were purely to put a lighthearted spin on the piece. Please accept my appologies if I offended anyone. I have done many joint exercise with the Canadians over my 19 years of military service. I have great respect for all my coalition partners.

Doug,
I thought your piece was very funny. Somehow the idea of a Canadian USO conjurs up some pretty amusing images. I was north of the (US) border a few weeks ago & the Canadian papers are full of reports on their military's activities in Afghanistan. Keep warm in those luxurious "quarters."

It breaks my heart to know that our nations contributions in Afghanistan are pretty much unheard of south of the border. It's also dissapointing that you'd be surprised with the idea that another country might have it's own "USO tour" full of it's own celebrtities oustide of American culture.

Unbelievable. Even as a "joke"... coming from an American it's a bit much.
Canada's military conduct peacekeeping missions all over the world. They even helped during Katrina! And let's not even get started on your late arrival in WW2! Our military may be small but the rest of the world knows that Canada will stand up and help them when it really matters.
And let's face it, 75% of "American" celebrities came from Canada to begin with, why would you be surprised that we have our own?

There was no opium under the Taliban.

When I read your "joke", I was immediately reminded of an unfortunate incident.

I was at a conference in Toronto. A guest speaker from the US warmed up with some tacky cartoonish jokes about Canada (this is all too common). He then gave his talk. He finished by lecturing us that the US was Canada's best friend and he could not understand why we were not fighting alongside the US in the war on terror. He had no idea that Canadians have been losing their sons in this war on terror in Afghanistan (amongst the first KIA were four killed by American "friendly fire").

What made this particularly distressing was that this man represented a huge association of lawyers and was speaking not only his fellow solictors, but also to several judges. This man was an ambassador of the legal profession in the US.

There is really no excuse for your patronizing humour. Canadians take this mission very seriously. Just because we have less than 10% the population of the US does not mean that it is alright for you to demean our proportional, but no less deadly, contributions. Your apology does not really mean much because it is the response to your posting that you find upsetting.

But look on the bright side, I am sure that there are plenty of decent Americans who cringed when they read your post.

FYI, the four Canadians killed in the friendly fire incident were: Sgt. Marc Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green, and Pte. Nathan Smith. All were members of the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Edmonton).


People are a little to uptight for their own good. The world would be a better place if people would ask themselves,"Will this make a real difference a year from now?" before they decide to pop off.

Rob: You might feel differently if it was your son that was killed, only to have a member of the coalition denigrate your country's effort. Perhaps you forget why we are all there in the first place.

Yes, it makes a difference. Not just one year from now, but every day of every year.

My husband and I are both descended from Canadians who emigrated to the US. We have grandsons in the military and we have a sense of deep affection and respect for our relatives to the North. Please, can we not blow this into an continental spat? Doug obviously found his experience a comforting one in a time of great stress when every American is the target of international contempt.

Is the soldier really to blame, or ist the American media that,sadly, does not give very good coverage of the support from other nations in Afghanistan?

I am a transplanted Canadian that served in the US Army Infantry. I know from first hand experience that this case of innocent ignorance is a sad fact, but it is through little fault of the soldiers. Have you ever had to sit through the news broadcasts that they serve up through the satelite network that the American military spoon feeds the US soldiers? It doesn't exactly give them a broad view of much concerning the war.

But the same can be said of your typical American news network as well. The BBC, CBC, and even Al Jazeera at times, make American news sources look like high school publications writing a story on the hometown football team in comparison.

This is not always the case, but in general it is true.

I totally agree with Connecticut Man1. The US media has been ineffective in reporting the war on terror in its entirety.

My comments were made not to attack Mr. Templeton, but rather to inform him that being the subject of patronizing humour is irritating to say the least, no matter how well intentioned.

A continental spat? No. Just a wake up call for some respect to the guys in the field.

To all who have found my posting to be of poor taste: Get over it!!!! I meant in no way to belittle, denigrate or any other such crap! I was trying to be funny, and you all have to lighten up about it. If you honestly have such a huge chip on your shoulder that berating me over this makes you feel better, than so be it. Try writing a post yourself, and when you do, make sure you put nothing in it that could offend someone. I regret that I went took the effort to share a moment in time with you, to uplift spirits over the tough holiday season away from family. Trust me, it won't happen again. The funny thing is that all the Canadians present at the time this occurred weren't offended. They knew it was a joke, and enjoyed humor for what it was.

Doug,

I was born and raised in Canada and emmigrated to the US some decades ago. I found your post funny and I particularly laughed at the very positive comment you made about the Mounties. That involved a light hearted deprecating comment implied about the US but I found it delightful and generous. You also admitted that you were under informed about the Canadian Military. You need not have repeated this to the world in this post but you were honest; I found that very genuine. You were so pleased with the outcome of a day well spent that I am truly sorry that this has become unpleasant. I was really quite thrilled that an American took the time and the effort to write about such a positive experience with a group of Canadians.

God bless you and take care of you and do please continue to post blogs for our enjoyment.

Yes, Doug, please keep up with the blogs. Some of us are very interested about the thoughts of our service personnel. And, as time goes on, we'll know you have a tendency to offset the tensions of your assignment with some humor. But if you just need to vent, don't be afraid to do that too. Communication could be the key to bringing you all home safe and sound. May God bless you and keep you all safe.

Thanks Doug. Even though I'm a dumb American, I got the joke! As an American who has spent time living in Canada, I know that one of Canada's favorite pasttimes is making fun of Americans. And it's ALL in good fun!! After all, if you want to turn an American into a Canadian, just give him a hockey stick and some health insurance, and there you go. Keep writing Doug, and be safe.

Well, I'm a Canuck in the US, and I thought it was pretty funny. Canadians are too quick to assume American ignorance, thus too defensive.

One of the comedians Doug probably ran into was Rick Mercer, who wrote a funny account in the Glove and Mail of his X-mas whirlwind tour of the Middle East (including landing on one of our destroyers in the Gulf in one of our ancient Sea Kings - that took guts!). He laddled gravy at one of the Afghanistan camps, which he said may have made him the most popular man in the country. And Rick has made a career out of poking fun at everyone, Canadians, Brits, and Americans in particular. Let's try to keep things in context, eh?

Be safe Doug.

Doug -- I see you're also from KC -- I'm going to assume the Missourah side :-) and maybe even north of the river!

Enjoyed your blog entry -- and I heartily second the post from Scott Lamont -- keep and be safe.

--from a new reader and ex-Kansas Citian now in Northern California

Keep up this good work of helping others. Two thumbs for you.

Thanks for your service.

I'm glad you have a logistics skill set to pass on to those Afghans, the sure could use logistics, and skills and probably a complete set of anything.

Though they don't seem to be using them yet.

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