July 19, 2010

Today's essential Afghan reading: Panjwaii Tim and retelling Semrau

Two good pieces on Afghanistan in Canadian papers over the weekend.

First, the Star's Mitch Potter with Tim Lynch's buddies running a stealth development crew on the streets of Kandahar. Good for Potter for going the extra mile.

The Canadian military today requires reporters to fill out 47 pages of forms before embedding. Panjwaii Tim required only a handshake — and a solemn promise on the ground rules.

“We're proud of the work we do. But you understand the stakes: this is life or death for us. No last names, no naming our NGO. No precise description of where we live. The danger is real. Do not make me regret this.”

Back home, Andrew Duffy gives another of the better accounts I've read so far of the circumstances surrounding the Semrau court martial.

Under a strict interpretation of the rules of engagement that govern the conduct of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, Semrau should have offered the insurgent first aid and called in a helicopter or field ambulance to evacuate him. It was also open to Semrau to leave the wounded man at a battlefield collection point to be picked up later.

From his perspective, Semrau likely believed his options were more limited. The area could not be secured for a helicopter since hundreds of Taliban were rumoured to be in the area and the operation was in its infancy. What's more, the ANA, upon whom the Canadians relied for their battlefield security, had left the insurgent to die and had pushed south. It would be dangerous for two Canadians to remain isolated on the battlefield.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Posted by BruceR at 09:03 AM