Thursday, May 18, 2006

Canada's Fallen Heroine

Canada has put itself well and truly in the same league as the midieval French and their Jeanne D'Arc. It was announced to day the the first female Canadian soldier has died in combat.

Captain Nicola Goddard is the first Canadian woman to die in combat since World War Two. What makes hers an even more remarkable event that she was a combat infantry (artillery) officer and died during a significant firefight with a force of Taliban. Canada's military has had a proactive policy of including females in combat units.

Other armed forces have developed equal-opportunity policies for women, as visualized in a number of hollywood movies featuring stars such as Goldie Hawn and Demi Moore. But in actuality the women, while receiving training, are usually seconded to rear echelon and supply units. Some have been made casualties but, as in previous wars, this was more by accident than design.

Ms Goddard's death comes in very close proximity to a parliamentary vote to sustain Canada's effort in Afghanistan for another 3 years. It also came during a week that looked like the promised Taliban offensive in Afghanistan was beginning to take shape - an increased number of attacks over a wider area than previously and involving significant numbers of insurgent attackers. Collateral to this, are an increasing number of dead Afghanis - both Taliban (or reputedly so) and police, in shootouts, and a number of non-combatants killed or injured in the inevitable bombings that seem to culminate coalition combat operations.

It strikes me that following-up the insurgent attacks with the bombing of shelters (somebody's house) where they are reputed to be, has all the earmarks of the unsuccessful Soviet tactics. Unless of course, the Soviets were bombing all the houses before the mujahiddin attacks. There are disconcerting rumours, as well, that the Americans have not yet improved their bombing skills and that friendly casualties, particularly Afghan, often result.

As Ms Goddard's prime function was to spot and call-in artillery and aircraft strikes, she would have been within observing range of these targets. The details of her death are not in, but I would hope that hers is not another friendly-fire incident. At any rate, a daughter is a very grievous loss. Condolences to her parents and family.

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