maple leaf rag

I just finished watching some video from Canadian Forces of a firefight in Afghanistan. I learned a few things.

First, I would be quite happy to be defended by the Canadian military.

Second, I’m reminded of how terrifying the battlefield is. Soldiers crouch behind a wall and occasionally pop up and try to shoot at something before diving back. More often, they just hold the rifle up above their heads and shoot in something like the direction of their enemies. Veterans had told me this, but there it was again. Pantsfilling fear in action.

Third, there’s always that one person, in this case a couple of sergeants, without whom everything would be fucked. He’s the one saying “No, stop, don’t shoot yet, our guys are there” and “Get behind something right now” and “You got to move that way, no that way, immediately” and most of all “Go over there and reload and be sure the barrel is pointed THAT way while you do so.”

I know that military situations are extreme, but I feel that most groups of 25 people or so should have someone like that. Everyone halt, we’re going to the Chinese place and not Arby’s. Put your credit card away immediately, there is incoming consumerism. No no no, negative on the strip club repeat negative, get your ass back behind this wall.

Finally, one of the guys in the press conference part of the video is clearly mendel. I had no idea that he’d served, but apparently he was in Afghanistan. He looks exactly as I would imagine mendel to look if he found himself in Afghanistan after a firefight with Taliban assholes. Tell us all about it, Rich!

mendel at war

versus

mendel not at war

15 thoughts on “maple leaf rag

  1. I don’t know that the Canadian military is that great. There was an incident in Somalia, where a bunch of white supremacists who became soldiers fucked up some Somali kid pretty badly. I think there’s an article about it in wikipedia. Most Canadians feel their military is a joke.

    1. I don’t really feel that way, nor do most of my friends. Our military is usually running around after military excursions, picking up land mines. Gotta like that (it’s one of those “wouldn’t catch me doing that ever” occupations.
      I’m not particularly pro any military force, but I guess if they’re picking up mines and not laying them down, that’s not as bad.

      1. You have a point there. I should amend my statement to say, Most of the Canadians I worked with overseas….
        Not most Canadians in general. Sorry about that.

    2. Hrm. I’d say that most Canadians deeply regret the Somalia incident but were pleased with how it was handled after it was discovered — and while I agree that most Canadians think the military is joke-worthy in terms of its funding and equipment (“we’re sending our ship, as soon as we get it out of the West Edmonton Mall”, etc.), I’d say that their accomplishments, especially in peacekeeping — and the things they’re able to do with so few resources — are a point of national pride.

      1. Seconded. It’s worth noting that limited numbers and equipment have historically forced Canadian troops (field officers and NCOs especially) to think differently about loss of life and risk. The urban warfare technique known as ‘mouse-holing’ was first used by Canadians in Ortona during the Italian campaign in WWII.
        There’s also the famous case of a lieutenant on UN duty scolding a young Cypriot sniper out of his window, grabbing the rifle from him, removing the bolt and sending him home. Contrast this with engagement tactics of other nations.
        I’ve known a few people in the Forces, and they agree that one of the (very few) benefits of life in the Canadian Armed Forces is really good sergeants.

  2. Crazy
    I haven’t seen too much combat coverage like this, wow. I mean, I just haven’t seen very many films (I _did_ see a couple of moored rusting lake freighters when I was in the Navy).
    The Canadians always seem to show up for the peacekeeping operations, which is a-ok. Yeah, like other people said, mine removal. Oh man, risking your ass removing somebody else’s mine–maybe metaphorically it’s ALWAYS somebody else’s mine, for peacekeepers especially. Also, they speak with Canadian accents, which is well.
    I was interested from your description to see a NATO country infantry troop firing a gun blind over a wall, because some time ago I developed the prejudice that exactly developing country soldiers or fringe elements do that, that it’s diagnostic: see it, therefore developing country or fringey. Rats, prejudice still holds, it isn’t Canadians doing it.
    Finally: GRENADE!!…GRENADE!! two! [silence] FOOM!!…FOOM!! GRENADE!!…GRENADE!! [silence] FOOM!!…FOOM!!
    It is, of course, _The Canadian Infantry Grenade Song_! Clap along.

  3. I note with some satisfaction that only the friendly local forces are shown firing without looking. I also note that the film was edited by the Canadian Armed Forces for public consumption. 😀

    1. I was interested to see that they left all the profanity in.
      The commander at the press conference is a smarmy S.O.B. The guy next to him seems to be thinking “Christ, what an asshole” the whole time.

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