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    Canadian Sailors contribute to mission in land-locked Afghanistan

    Canadian Sailors Contribute to Mission in Land-locked Afghanistan

    Photo By Darlene Blakeley | Canadian LCdr April Inglis, a lawyer with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team,...... read more read more

    AFGHANISTAN

    02.15.2008

    Story by Darlene Blakeley 

    National Defence Canada

    By Darlene Blakeley

    AFGHANISTAN - A land-locked country like Afghanistan may seem like an unusual place to find Sailors, but approximately 60 members of the Canadian Navy are currently serving there in a variety of roles.

    "There is definite value to having sailors in Afghanistan," says Chief Petty Officer, 1st Class Robert Cleroux, Maritime Command Chief Petty Officer. "They feel like they are part of the team. In Afghanistan, it doesn't matter if you're Army, Air Force or Navy—it is one mission and everyone contributes."

    CPO 1 Cleroux returned in late January from a five-day visit to Kandahar and a forward operating base close by, where he met Sailors and talked to them about their mission. There were 10 sailors at the FOB, working in such diverse areas as human intelligence, defence and security, and cooking.

    "The two petty officers working in human intelligence have a dangerous job," CPO 1 Cleroux says. "They gather information by talking to people, listening to their gripes, and building profiles of certain individuals. Basically, they are trying to identify potential bombers. Those working defence and security stand eight-hour watches defending the FOB."

    For Sailors, these are not typical jobs, and they require additional training. Before heading overseas, they undergo months of training at Army bases such as Kingston and Petawawa, Ont., and Valcartier, Que. But since the sailors have volunteered for these positions, they already have the willingness and motivation necessary to undertake the challenge.

    "Sailors are gaining new skills like weapons handling and hand-to-hand combat—things they might not normally learn in the Navy. It has increased their confidence and really given them a chance to contribute," CPO 1 Cleroux says.

    CPO 1 Cleroux also spent time in Kandahar, where he says sailors are "almost invisible—and that's a good thing. They are doing things like logistics, communications and intelligence," he says, "and because everyone is wearing a tan uniform, the only way I can tell they are sailors is by the anchor on their name tag."

    Although the job is not always easy and losses take a heavy emotional toll, CPO 1 Cleroux says morale among sailors is good. "Every sailor feels that they are part of one team. They know the mission is important and they feel they are contributing. They really appreciate the opportunity to be over there supporting the soldiers."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.15.2008
    Date Posted: 02.15.2008 09:14
    Story ID: 16366
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 648
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