The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. George Bowering, our first
Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Mr. Bowering is a resident of British Columbia, and
his appointment is for a period of two years.
On behalf of all the senators, I bid you welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Honourable senators, I also wish to draw your attention to the presence in
the gallery of Senator Alan Ferguson, Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign
Affairs and Trade, Australia. He is accompanied by senators and MPs from
On behalf of all senators, I bid you welcome to the Senate of Canada.
The Senate in Committee of the Whole in order to receive
Lieutenant-Colonel Pat Stogran, former Commanding Officer, 3 Princess
Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group, Canadian Forces Battle Group
in Afghanistan, February to July 2002, and Major-General Michel Gauthier,
former Commander Canadian Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, February to
October 2002, for the purpose of discussing the preparation and training
prior to deployment as well as the experiences of the Canadian Forces in
Afghanistan in the war on terrorism.
The Senate was accordingly adjourned during pleasure and put into a Committee
of the Whole, the Honourable Lorna Milne in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, pursuant to order, the Senate is
resolved into Committee of the Whole for the purpose of receiving MGen. Michel
Gauthier, former Commander Canadian Joint Task Force Southwest Asia, and LCol.
Pat Stogran, former Commanding Officer, 3 Princess Patricia Canadian Light
Infantry Battalion Group, Canadian Forces Battle Group in Afghanistan, February
to July 2002, for the purpose of discussing the preparation and training prior
to deployment as well as the experiences of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
in the war on terrorism.
Before we begin, honourable senators, I draw your attention to rule 83, which
When the Senate is put into Committee of the Whole every Senator shall
sit in the place assigned to that Senator. A Senator who desires to speak
shall rise and address the Chair.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that rule 83 be waived?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: It is agreed.
Senator Carstairs: I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator Kenny,
that MGen. Michel Gauthier and LCol. Pat Stogran be escorted to seats in the
The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Pursuant to Order of the Senate, MGen. Michel Gauthier and LCol. Pat Stogran
were escorted to seats in the Senate chamber.
Senator Kinsella: Might I suggest, Madam Chair, if it is agreeable to
honourable senators, that in the first round we limit ourselves to about eight
or nine minutes per senator?
Senator Carstairs: The rules, as you know, honourable senator, say 10
minutes. If people will shorten that time, it would certainly be acceptable to
me. I know many senators want to participate in this debate.
The Chairman: On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome MGen.
Michel Gauthier and LCol. Pat Stogran.
Major-General Michel Gauthier, former Commander, Canadian Joint Task Force
Southwest Asia: Honourable senators, it is an honour for LCol. Stogran and I
to report to you in this historic chamber, just as it was a tremendous privilege
for both of us to command Canadian Forces personnel on Operation Apollo,
Canada's military contribution to the global campaign against terror.
As many of you know, Canada was among the very first nations to join the
United States in the global campaign against terrorism. Since early October of
last year, well over 5,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air personnel have
deployed overseas in support of this important mission, aimed at eliminating the
threat of terrorism. The professional and selfless response of our men and women
since the earliest days of this campaign has been a source of pride and
inspiration to all of us who are privileged to lead them.
Over the next few minutes, I propose to give you a brief overview of the full
breadth of the Canadian Forces' contribution to the campaign against terror,
following which LCol. Strogran will speak more specifically about the 3 PPCLI
Battle Group and the ground campaign in Afghanistan. Following this, we will be
happy to answer your questions.
By way of personal context, I will note that I assumed my duties as Commander
of Canadian Joint Task Force Southwest Asia based at U.S. Central Command,
Tampa, Florida, on April 19, 2002, the day after the tragic events at Tarnak
Farm. It was in the face of this adversity that I was able to observe the
inspiring professionalism of Canadian Forces personnel. It was epitomized by
LCol. Stogran's personal response in the immediate aftermath of the bombing,
caring for his fallen and wounded soldiers, while at the same time immediately
preparing for the next operational mission. I saw it at all rank levels and in
all three services, in response to a host of unique challenges that characterize
military operations in the 21st century.
Operation Enduring Freedom is the U.S. designation for the global campaign
against terror, and Canada's contribution to this operation has been significant
on many fronts. Canada's Naval Task Group was the first, after the U.S., to
arrive in the Southwest Asia theatre. At its peak, the Canadian Naval commitment
included six warships and over 1,500 personnel.
A key component of the CENTCOM maritime campaign has been leadership
interdiction operations aimed at intercepting terrorist leadership elements
escaping in merchant vessels or fishing boats from Pakistan or Iran. The
Canadian commodore in charge of Canada's Naval Task Group has, for virtually all
of the past 12 months, been given responsibility for commanding these
counterterrorist operations. On any given day, he might have as many as nine
ships from eight different countries under his command, and that situation
Canadian and allied ships patrol the region constantly, hailing virtually all
vessels transiting the area and, when necessary, visiting and physically
boarding those that are suspicious. In the conduct of their LIO duties, Her
Majesty's Canadian ships, with CP-140 Auroras and Sea King helicopters in direct
support, have conducted over 50 per cent or approximately 16,000 of the total
coalition hails, and 64 per cent or approximately 200 of the total coalition
boardings. Sea King helicopters have flown more than 360 missions in the
theatre. Of particular note, in July, it was a Canadian ship, HMCS Algonquin,
that on two occasions captured suspected al-Qaeda operatives at sea.
Canadian sailors and ships have contributed out of all proportion to their
numbers. This is a function of experienced leadership, effective training and a
professional, purposeful mindset, together with robust rules of engagement and
truly unequalled interoperability with U.S. maritime forces.
The allied perception of our naval contribution was aptly reflected in a
letter I received recently from American Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the
Commander of Coalition Naval Forces, who said, among many other things, "No
individual was more instrumental in unleashing the combat power of the coalition
forces in the Gulf of Oman than Canada's Commodore Eric Lerhe. He served with
distinction, and we appreciate his service to this just cause."
Our air forces have made a diverse and equally meaningful contribution to the
coalition air effort, with four different types of aircraft initially involved
in the campaign. A strategic airlift detachment, based on a CC-150 Polaris
(Airbus), was deployed in support of the campaign from November 16, 2001, until
the end of May 2002, when its services were no longer essential. Through this
period, it moved almost one million pounds of freight in support of the
coalition logistics effort.
Two CP140 Aurora aircraft have flown eight to ten-hour surveillance missions
daily from a base in the Arabian Desert in support of maritime operations. With
their multi-faceted surveillance capabilities, the Auroras have been
instrumental to building the coalition recognized maritime picture in support of
counter-terrorist operations at sea. They also played a key role in the capture
of the four suspected terrorists at sea. The Auroras were joined by a tactical
airlift detachment composed of approximately 200 air personnel, and three CC130
Hercules aircraft. The detachment has been responsible for short-haul airlift
support to coalition forces. Its crews have carried more than 3,500 passengers
and 4.3 million pounds of freight, and much of this has involved flying combat
support missions into and out of Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan virtually
The Hercules, the Aurora and the Sea Kings embarked on our ships are setting
the coalition standard in their mission completion rates. All have drawn
effusive praise from our allies. I believe we have been able to achieve this
success for three main reasons: Our aircrew are as professional and well-trained
as any; our ground crews are resourceful and just will not stop until the job
gets done; and more than just about any other nation, we are team players —
coalition objectives come first when it comes to getting the job done.
Honourable senators, LCol. Stogran will give you his first-hand insights into
the historic experiences of the men and women of 3 PPCLI Battle Group. I will
tell you that the breadth and depth of challenges they faced in Afghanistan is
tough to encapsulate in a few words — the terrain; the mines; the destruction;
the heat and the dust; deploying halfway around the world with an absolute
minimum of equipment and supplies; integrating themselves into a close-knit
fighting formation from another nation, U.S. Task Force Rakkasan; and most
important, for the first time in five decades, preparing to engage in combat
against a declared enemy.
Let me relate a few things LCol. Stogran would be too humble to say himself.
I had occasion to deploy in Afghanistan four times personally. I can tell you
that during each of those deployments, the praise I heard from U.S. commanders
on the ground about our soldiers was overwhelming. The first of the two officers
commanding Task Force Rakkasan, U.S. Colonel Francis Wiercinski, described 3
PPCLI's prowess and effectiveness on Operation Harpoon as the best he had seen
in his 23 years of military service. His successor, Col. Michael Linnington,
rated LCol. Stogran the best of his nine battalion commanders — the other eight
being Americans, of course — and described the unit's execution of Operation
Cherokee Sky in June as "flawless, in the toughest environment imaginable," a
result that could only have been achieved by "a well-rehearsed, capably led and
superbly conditioned outfit."
In addition to these operational units, two others should be mentioned
briefly. Operation Apollo was sufficiently complex to warrant creating a unique
joint national support unit (NSU) to cater to the diverse logistical support
needs of deployed air, land and naval assets. The challenge of bridging the gap
between home bases across Canada and the units deployed at sea, in the Arabian
desert, and in Afghanistan was monumental; our support personnel have been
Also, since the earliest days of the operation, Canada has had a robust
national command element, co-located with CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, which
serves as a bridge between the tactical units deployed and the strategic level
in Ottawa. The staff works hand in glove with the staff of CENTCOM and has
played an important leadership role in the coalition planning effort in Tampa.
There is so much more I have not said in the interests of time. I met, spoke
with and observed literally thousands of our men and women during my six
deployments forward into the mission area. Above all, from my perspective, this
is a human story in two important respects. The first is one of professional
excellence, pride in doing one's best, and courage under physically demanding
and dangerous conditions. It is equally a story of selfless service to the
I will end by saying that it was a unique honour for me to play a role in
this important campaign and an inspiring opportunity to witness so many
Canadians doing their country proud. They deserve our full support.
The Chairman: Thank you. We have next LCol. Pat Stogran, who has been
sitting here listening to the high praise that has been bestowed upon him.
Lieutenant-Colonel Pat Stogran, former Commanding Officer, 3 Princess
Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group, Canadian Forces: Honourable
senators, may I start by echoing the comments of MGen. Gauthier regarding what
an honour it is to present myself before this Senate Committee of the Whole.
In February of this year, I had the privilege to lead the 3 PPCLI Battle
Group on Operation Apollo as Canada's ground contribution to the U.S-led war
against terrorism. Although the battle group was based on the Third Battalion
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, it also consisted of Charlie
Company, from the Second Battalion PPCLI, the reconnaissance squadron of Lord
Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), one of the Canadian army's armoured
regiments, a squadron of Sappers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, a mortar
platoon from the First Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and a large cadre
of combat and combat service support personnel from across Canada.
When we left, we understood our mission was open-ended — we did not know when
we would be coming back or what we would encounter in Afghanistan. This
certainly did not sway our troops. On the contrary, we embarked on our task with
the resolve to do whatever was necessary to serve our country with honour. In
the end, our contribution to Operation Apollo turned out to be six months in
duration, and we left Afghanistan with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
The 3 PPCLI Battle Group worked extremely well together, and upon assuming
responsibility for the defence of the Kandahar airfield, we quickly demonstrated
our prowess in combat operations. This fostered an excellent working
relationship between us and our coalition partners, 187 Brigade Combat Team of
the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Rakkasan.
In addition to our defence of the Kandahar airfield, we embarked on three
large-scale, battalion-sized offensive operations in pursuit of the al-Qaeda,
one such operation being the first combat air assault in the history of the
Canadian army into the Sha I Kot Valley, in March 2002. Sub-elements of the
battle group also conducted numerous operations of smaller scale, both defensive
and offensive in nature.
Although we were never bloodied by the al-Qaeda, the soldiers of the 3 PPCLI
Battle Group had to deal with all of the fears, anxieties and apprehensions
associated with launching combat operations against a declared enemy and the
trauma of having comrades killed in action.
I know all of Canada is proud of the performance of our troops in
Afghanistan, but nobody can claim to be prouder of them than me, their
commanding officer. They all demonstrated the skills and courage, both moral and
physical, that perpetuate the legacy established by our veterans of conflicts
more than half a century ago. There is no doubt that the performance of the 3
PPCLI Battle Group in offensive and defensive combat operations earned the
respect of our allies and coalition partners, and this is a tribute to the
standard of professionalism that exists amongst the soldiers of the Canadian
Finally, I am proud as a Canadian to have been a part of the team that
demonstrated, once again, Canada's ongoing commitment to international stability
and collective security.
The Chairman: Thank you for your statements, gentlemen. I have quite a
few senators on the list to question you. I would remind honourable senators
that we have agreed to try to limit the questions to five minutes each.
We will begin with Senators Kenny, Forrestall, Banks and Kinsella.
I would remind those honourable senators sitting at the end of the room that,
rule 83 having been waived, you can move down here to see our witnesses' faces.
Senator Kenny: MGen. Gauthier and LCol. Stogran, welcome to the Senate
of Canada. We are pleased to see you here. I want to tell you that we are
terribly proud of the work you have done, how you have served Canada, and we are
glad to see you back safely.
MGen. Gauthier, could you describe to the committee the command and control
relationships, how they worked vis-à-vis National Defence Headquarters here in
Ottawa, Central Command in Tampa, your headquarters and the Canadian personnel
deployed under Operation Apollo? It seems like a pretty complicated
relationship. Could you explain to us how it functioned?
MGen. Gauthier: I will try to demystify it and simplify it to the
extent I can, although it is a complex subject. The force itself was complex,
with over 43 nations involved in the coalition. It was also complicated, given
the nature and scope of operations.
The Canadian chain of command was, from my perspective, crystal clear. I had
a direct line to National Defence Headquarters, to the Chief of the Defence
Staff, through the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for day-to-day business.
They assigned operational command to me, and there is a definition for that, of
all Canadian Forces, less special forces operating in Afghanistan.
At the same time as I was assigned operational command of those forces, they
were assigned to the operational control of General Franks in Central Command,
as the commander-in-chief of Central Command. He, in turn, delegated operational
control of those forces down his chain of command. There were essentially
parallel national and CENTCOM chains of commands.
I retained national command of deployed forces. I spoke regularly by phone
and other means to LCol. Stogran and all the other deployed commanders. At the
same time, for operational purposes, LCol. Stogran, for instance, was assigned
ultimately with the delegation of operational control. He was assigned under the
operational control of Task Force Rakkasan, which is essentially a brigade-level
organization. Between Task Force Rakkasan, which is a land component
organization, and CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, there were two other layers in
the chain of command — a land component headquarters and a combined joint task
force headquarters, both located in Bagrum, Afghanistan. There were several
steps in the chain of command from a U.S. perspective; the links were much more
direct from a Canadian perspective.
It is essentially the same relationship with our naval forces. The commodore
at sea and the ships that he exercised command over were assigned to the
operational control of the commander NAVCENT whom I referred to in my opening
remarks, the commander of Naval Forces Central Command, Vice Admiral Keating.
The same also held true for air assets.
Do you want me to get into detail on that subject as well? Does that answer
your question, senator?
Senator Kenny: Yes, thank you.
LCol. Stogran, could you answer roughly the same question from your
perspective? How did it work on a day-to-day basis?
LCol. Stogran: For all intents and purposes, I received my orders
directly from Col. Wiercinski and, later, Col. Linnington, the commanders of
Task Force Rakkasan. When I was originally deployed on Operation Apollo, I was
given four tasks as part of my overarching mandate. I was tasked with providing
perimeter security to the airfield; facilitating humanitarian aid, if and when
it would arrive in theatre; conducting what we referred to as sensitive site
exploitations, which is an offensive operation of going into an area where the
al-Qaeda were operating, or suspected to have been operating, in order to gather
evidence; and conducting offensive operations on order.
I was handed what I would call very robust rules of engagement for any tasks
of a defensive nature. Through robust rules of engagement, my soldiers were
entitled to use lethal force against a person if they suspected that hostile
intent was involved. That is, if a soldier felt that he had a reasonable
apprehension of serious harm or injury, he could resort to lethal force in his
When dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda as declared enemies, we were
authorized to conduct offensive operations under laws of armed conflict. In
doing so in any pre-planned engagements, any offensive operations of a
deliberate nature, I was to refer to my chain of command to receive ultimate
approval from General Gauthier.
Senator Forrestall: I join with Senator Kenny in welcoming the two of
you, assuring you at the same time of our deepest respect for your
professionalism and the function and role that you carried out on our behalf.
You will note, in some of the questions being asked this afternoon, a
reflection of many of the inquiries and concerns after the Somalia inquiry.
LCol. Stogran, how and when did you receive your first order to prepare
forces to deploy to Afghanistan?
LCol. Stogran: I received the initial warning that we were earmarked
for deployment to Afghanistan on November 14, 2001, I believe. The original
intent, as I understood it at the time, was for us to deploy with ISAF, the
International Security Assistance Force.
From November 14, 2001, I was involved in reconnaissance and liaison here
with National Defence Headquarters. The battalion was preparing all of our
equipment to allow us to deploy. At the time, we thought we would deploy into
the Baghran area.
As things developed near Christmas time, we understood that we would no
longer be invited as a member to the International Security Assistance Force,
and our focus was changed to the coalition operation, Operation Enduring
Freedom. I believe that it was on or about January 8, 2002, that I received a
subsequent order for us to become part of Task Force Rakkasan.
Senator Forrestall: Was your unit at full strength on January 8, 2002?
LCol. Stogran: Yes, sir. We had been reinforced by Charlie Company
from the second battalion of the PPCLI to bring us to full strength in terms of
infantry. Of course, the other attachments were at full strength, also.
Senator Forrestall: When were you told to prepare for a rather robust
role alongside our allies and friends from the south? On what date did you have
first knowledge of that?
LCol. Stogran: The actual warning for us as part of the coalition
would have been January 8. However, I had been warned in April of last year to
head the Immediate Reaction Force (Land). That force is at a high state of
readiness for contingencies such as non-combatant evacuation operations. From
that time, the battalion embarked on an aggressive combat-oriented training
program that facilitated our deployment in January 2002 with the coalition
Senator Forrestall: Did the composition of your Battle Group give you
concern prior to deployment? If so, did you communicate this concern to the
chain of command and what was the response?
LCol. Stogran: Sir, my one concern with the battle group was that at
no time had we ever actually trained as a complete battalion. I was familiar
with Charlie Company of 2 PPCLI. We had embarked on a training exercise in
October, which Charlie Company and Major Ford had attended as part of the
battalion. I was also familiar with the mortar platoon attached to us because of
a regular affiliation that my battalion had with that particular battery. We had
worked with the reconnaissance squadron from the armoured regiment in an
exercise in April of the previous year.
I was familiar with all of the component parts. However, I did express my
concern, although it was not a show-stopper, that we had never had the full
footprint of the IRFL on the ground.
Senator Forrestall: Have you a date in mind when you formally
committed for deployment training for Afghanistan?
LCol. Stogran: Sir, we never conducted specific pre-deployment
training for the Afghanistan theatre. As I said, we had embarked on a very
aggressive year of training that culminated in October of last year with an
exercise that I referred to as "Venturesome Brave," during which the commander
of first brigade allowed us to rent state-of-the-art laser engagement simulators
to allow us to train in as realistic a combat environment as possible.
The Chairman: Senator Forrestall, I remind you that we have agreed on
a five-minute question period. Perhaps you would agree to speak again at the
Senator Forrestall: I did not agree to a five-minute limit. I thought
that the limit was seven minutes or eight minutes. We had hoped for a limit of
10 minutes. Having said that, I suggest that we proceed.
Senator Banks: I should like to thank MGen. Gauthier and LCol. Stogran
for accepting our invitation. I am an Alberta senator. The colonel already knows
how proud Albertans are of your performance and that of the men and women
serving with you. In particular, Edmontonians are proud of the participation of
the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry and Lord Strathcona's Horse, Royal
You should also know that the committee of which I have the honour to be a
member has had the opportunity of hearing from some of the people who served
under you. The people who worked for you loudly reinforce the commendation that
you have received from your superiors. They hold you in the highest regard.
You have read, I am sure, as we all have, reports and comments from various
associations and commentators in the media — both electronic and print — about
the difficulties that you faced, first, in getting to Afghanistan and, second,
in being properly provided with the materiel that you needed once you got there,
ranging from uniforms and boots to proper night vision equipment. Would you
ruminate about that for a few minutes, please?
LCol. Stogran: Sir, it is difficult for me to comment in any detail on
the difficulties that were experienced by the battle group in deploying because
I was already in Afghanistan in January, working with the brigade headquarters
to which I was attached. I was not a part of the actual deployment.
Anecdotally, there were some problems on the tarmac with respect to the
loading of kit and equipment. Working with the assets that were provided to us
by the United States Air Force, things went very smoothly at the receiving end
on the other side.
With regard to the difficulties with our kit, I think our record in
Afghanistan speaks for itself. We did not really encounter what I would call
show-stoppers in terms of kit. We were capable of operating at night because of
the provision of night vision goggles and laser designators for our weapons
systems. However, the army pulled out all of the stops to ensure all our
riflemen were outfitted and capable of night-fighting.
We had a list of other equipment items that we had asked for, which we refer
to as urgent operational requirements or immediate operational requirements,
many of which were never satisfied. However, due to good luck or good
management, this did not impede my ability to satisfy the demands that were
placed on us by my coalition commander.
Senator Banks: That answer speaks to your inventiveness and that of
the people who were serving under you.
In your opening address, you mentioned that you were responsible for the
distribution of humanitarian aid if and when it arrived. Did it arrive?
LCol. Stogran: Humanitarian aid, per se, was slow in coming. We
deployed on our operation with the understanding that a government agency would
provide $100,000 for humanitarian aid. That money was not forthcoming. We
submitted plans and proposals and worked with MGen. Gauthier's headquarters to
firm up a direction. We started our preparations right from day one. I viewed
the humanitarian aid issue to be a very important aspect of our operation, not
only from an operational security perspective. We wanted to demonstrate to the
locals that we were not there as a force of occupation and that we were
interested in rebuilding their nation.
The humanitarian aid component of the plan also provided us inroads with
respect to human intelligence. Once we won the confidence of the Afghan military
forces, we started working closer with the local forces that surrounded the
perimeter. That was an important aspect of my plan. Canadian soldiers, given
their history and culture, do not like to go to a country that is hurting and
not give assistance to the local populace. Humanitarian aid is a very important
moral factor for our soldiers.
As time went on, it became apparent that the funding from the government
agency would not be forthcoming. As I understand it, $50,000 was provided to us
from the operating funds of the Department of National Defence.
Over and above that, interested Canadian businessmen who happened to be in
Dubai also gave us funds. We used all of that money to purchase water pumps for
the local population and to build approximately a half dozen schools.
Senator Kinsella: Colonel, I would like to turn the focus to your
rules of engagement. Could you share with honourable senators the date on which
you received your first draft of the rules of engagement under which you were
able to commence training? Did the rules of engagement cover how prisoners were
to be treated? In addition, what guidance were you given with regard to the
transfer of Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners to the United States? Was this
accomplished through orders from National Defence Headquarters, or was it given
explicitly in the rules of engagement that you received?
LCol. Stogran: Senator, I could not comment on the precise date that
official rules of engagement were handed down to the battalion because, again, I
was overseas at that point in time. We had received in November or December a
draft of the rules of engagement. We had actually started training our troops so
they would be familiar with the intent, if not the specific details, of the
rules of engagement that we might be working with.
Canadian Forces troops are very conversant with rules of engagement. We
received the rules of engagement sometime in January. In my absence, I know that
an intensive training program was undertaken in Canada by my deputy commanding
I was satisfied upon their arrival that the troops were fully conversant with
the rules of engagement. I consulted with my legal officer, and he assured me
that the troops were conversant with the rules of engagement as they stood at
that point in time.
To the best of my recollection, the rules of engagement did not deal with the
treatment of prisoners, per se, but I stand to be corrected on that matter. We
train our troops to deal with prisoners in accordance with existing laws of
armed conflict and international conventions. There was never any specific
reference early on in the deployment to the treatment of Taliban or al- Qaeda
and how the transfer process would be effected with Task Force Rakkasan. Early
in the deployment, I recognized that we were under their operational control. I
actually had access to the short-term holding facility and recognized that the
prisoners, upon my observation, were being treated in accordance with
international conventions. I felt comfortable handing over anyone we may have
detained. We did not have detainees in the process until the protocols were
actually established within the chain of command.
Senator Kinsella: Given that the Somalia inquiry report underscored
the importance that, in the future, rules of engagement must be respectful of
Canadian domestic law, and given the fact that in Canada the death penalty is
foreign to Canadian law, did the Department of National Defence give any
instruction or guidance to our officers in the field with regard to the
treatment and the transfer of prisoners who could very well face the death
penalty if handed over to the United States?
MGen. Gauthier: To get back to the first part of your question, to add
to what LCol. Stogran said, from my perspective, as the national task force
commander, rules of engagement were one of the success stories of this mission.
Institutionally, we have learned a tremendous amount in the nine years since the
events in Somalia. I can tell you that rare were the instances where LCol.
Stogran and I needed to discuss or debate issues surrounding the rules of
engagement. The same applies to the rules of engagement for other elements of
the force at sea and elsewhere. That is a positive comment about where we have
With respect to the handling of detainees, I have to respectfully say that
LCol. Stogran's memory may be failing him a little bit in the sense that there
was a published task force standing order on the handling of detainees based on
the direction that we had been given. LCol. Stogran was very busy in
Afghanistan, and this may be why he does not remember explicitly the
bureaucratic side of this matter.
There were instructions. We can get you a copy of the standing order, which
specifies how the detainees are to be handled. The bottom line, certainly at the
operational level, is that there cannot be a lot of discussion in this respect.
LCol. Stogran did not have with him the full range of expertise needed to go
through a proper interrogation process to determine whether a particular suspect
should be released. By and large, Americans made those decisions.
The rule from a Canadian perspective was, first of all, that this had to be
catalogued and documented very carefully. LCol. Stogran and his staff know that
because we had reports of certain detainees. They were pushed up the chain of
command through us to the national level, to the Government of Canada in fact,
on a very timely basis.
The bottom line of the instruction was simply that the detainees were to be
turned over to American forces as quickly as possible to render a judgment as to
whether they should be detained or not. In all instances where 3 PPCLI actually
apprehended individuals for any length of time, it was for a short period of
time. They were subsequently released rather than going further along the
Does that answer your question, sir?
Senator Kinsella: Thank you.
Senator Wiebe: MGen. Gauthier and LCol. Stogran, let me first say that
I echo the congratulatory words of my colleagues today. I believe that I speak
on behalf of all honourable senators in this chamber when I ask that you pass on
our congratulations and thanks to the men and women in 3 PPCLI battle group who
we believe did an outstanding job of representing our country in Afghanistan.
In your comments, LCol. Stogran, you mentioned that the Canadian battle group
was drawn from various units across Canada. Does that then mean that we do not
have a battalion-size battle group in one place in Canada that trains constantly
at one base?
LCol. Stogran: Senator, we have several battalion-size elements. I
should clarify that the nature of the battle group I was commanding at that
point in time had many specialist functions attached to it, such as a national
rear link or a signals element that allowed us to communicate with Canada.
The dental element that was attached to us came from outside the normal
configuration of an infantry battalion. Those are the sorts of functions I was
referring to that were drawn from as far away as Petawawa and Kingston.
Senator Wiebe: Would this be the first time over the last eight years
that a battle group of battalion size had trained together this extensively?
LCol. Stogran: I will have to plead some degree of ignorance again, as
I could not really comment on some of the early battle groups we would have sent
off to other watershed peacekeeping missions and Kosovo.
The battle group that I commanded was extremely robust in terms of a
diversity of capabilities, from signals intelligence through to the Coyote
surveillance system on the armoured vehicles. In very recent history, it is
probably one of the more robust battle groups to have trained together.
Senator Wiebe: Upon the unit's return to Canada, have Canadian Forces
personnel been returned to their individual units instead of being kept together
as a battalion?
LCol. Stogran: Yes, sir, for the most part. There was a period of time
where we kept the major part of the battle group together in Edmonton.
Senator Wiebe: The individuals who served in Afghanistan have gained a
tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and ability in their deployment
there. How does the military plan to use those new experiences to train new
recruits or existing personnel within Canada? Is that a fair question to ask of
either of you?
MGen. Gauthier: Senator, I cannot give you an institutional answer to
I remember sitting with LCol. Stogran in Kandahar, discussing the issue of
how to reintegrate his soldiers into Canadian life in all of its facets,
military and otherwise. The two of us agreed vociferously that we have to
instill in these soldiers a sense that, when they get back to Canada, it is
their responsibility to make the army better and wiser for the richness of their
experiences in Afghanistan.
LCol. Stogran: As I expect the question may arise later, I want to add
some information regarding our reintegration program in Guam. A key part of that
program was workplace reintegration. In the time that we had with the soldiers,
we impressed upon them that their experiences in Afghanistan were valuable to
the army. They should conduct themselves as they go out into the expanse of the
army in a way that would have the army welcome their experiences. I tried to
impress upon the soldiers that they should not expect to change the army; they
should shape it through their experiences.
Some of the soldiers from our battalion were posted to many of our training
institutions. I am performing a job at National Defence Headquarters where I
hope to be able to assist in the shaping of our army for the future.
Senator Comeau: My question to LCol. Stogran deals with intelligence,
which I know is a sensitive issue. I would not ask LCol. Stogran to compromise
state or military security in any way. I will be asking general questions. If he
wishes, he should feel free to answer in a general way.
I am aware of testimony from the Somalia inquiry indicating that an
intelligence officer had to go to the Internet and pull information off the BBC
and CNN because of the lack of proper intelligence information at the time.
Could you tell honourable senators what kind of intelligence on Afghanistan you
were provided prior to deployment?
LCol. Stogran: Prior to the deployment, most of the intelligence we
received was very much of a general nature, to the best of my recollection.
Senator Comeau: Were you satisfied with the general quality and level
of intelligence that you were provided? When you did ask, were you provided with
the type of information that you would have needed?
LCol. Stogran: Upon our deployment into the theatre of operation, I
had a very robust intelligence capability. We had an extremely capable signals
intelligence capability. I had two intelligence officers as well as
non-commissioned officers in my intelligence cell, and they were highly
competent. They were receiving imagery from sources in Canada, as well as
working very closely with the Americans. I was extremely satisfied with the
potential they brought to the battlefield.
The biggest concern I had was that there were certain no- foreigner issues
that our American counterparts were exercising in guarding some of their
intelligence. We had full and open access to anything that was collected, using
some of the facilities that Task Force Rakkasan had. We were very robust in
terms of intelligence capability.
Senator Comeau: This was in-theatre?
LCol. Stogran: Yes, sir.
Senator Comeau: Prior to going into the theatre, were you given access
to information that would have been available to the British and the Americans?
LCol. Stogran: We were in contact with sources here at National
Defence Headquarters. The information I would have seen was open to our NATO and
ABC allies. I can infer from that that we were drawing from those sources as
well. I was satisfied with the type of information we were receiving at that
MGen. Gauthier: I understand this a little bit better now with the
benefit of two weeks of experience as the new Director General of Intelligence
at National Defence Headquarters.
Senator Comeau: Congratulations.
MGen. Gauthier: I can say unequivocally that I am beginning to
understand how much I do not know. We have agreements and arrangements with our
allies that are central to the intelligence process. I can assure the senator
that the intelligence was shared and continues to be shared on an ongoing basis.
I have no doubt that this sort of information was pushed down to the unit level.
Senator Comeau: Prior to the deployment, were you aware or advised
whether there was an Afghan desk at Foreign Affairs with which you could
interact or contact, in case of questions that might come up?
LCol. Stogran: On our initial warning last year, Foreign Affairs took
an active part in many of the briefings provided to us, as did other agencies
within the government. Yes, I was fully aware that Foreign Affairs had such a
Senator Comeau: When you did go to theatre, were you provided with
proper reconnaissance of the country, such as maps and the information you
needed as an operations group?
LCol. Stogran: I would have to say yes. With regard to maps, the maps
of the region were what I would call primitive. We were working with Soviet maps
in some cases and other local maps that had been enhanced by coalition forces.
For the most part, I was satisfied with the types of deliverables that my
intelligence assets provided.
Senator Comeau: There were many groups other than the U.S. and
British, of course. Did you have access to any intelligence information from
other countries that were part of the coalition?
LCol. Stogran: Again, I would have to refer to my earlier comments
about my degree of satisfaction with our intelligence sources.
I can say that my intelligence cell actually had an excellent working
relationship with the U.S. and coalition special forces in theatre. Even when
we, as members of the coalition, detected a rift between the U.S. conventional
and special forces community in terms of the transfer of information, we had
good success with the obtaining of intelligence from the American special forces
and other elements operating in theatre.
The Chairman: I want to remind honourable senators that I have eight
names still on the first round, and four on the second round, with one half hour
Senator Smith: Madam Chair, I would echo the congratulatory comments
previous speakers have made. I will try to keep to one broad question, as I know
you have a long list.
At the beginning of your comments, MGen. Gauthier, you said the Canadian
Forces contributed out of all proportion to their numbers. I might say that your
remarks sounded quite convincing.
I will not ask you for your views on the merits of whether or not the
government should go into such missions, but it is fair to try to get some
readback on the enthusiasm, the morale and the spirit of the troops and their
commanders on such missions. We have a 50-year history of peacekeeping that has
now been expanded to collective security that can include combat. Was morale
sustained? Are you up for this assignment? How do they feel about this role that
Canada has developed a niche for?
MGen. Gauthier: Do you refer specifically to the mission in
Senator Smith: Yes, as a result.
MGen. Gauthier: I would be surprised if there was a soldier in the
entire army who would not have volunteered for this. I am sure LCol. Stogran
would share that view in terms of the soldiers in his battalion or battle group.
I do not mean to sound like I am overstating this. It is typical certainly of
the soldiers of which I have become very proud over almost three decades of
serving with the forces. They would not turn down an opportunity to serve during
this operation. I ran into not just soldiers, by the way, but also airmen and
sailors. I came across one who was on his ninth six-month deployment in a
15-year career. There were two others who were on their eighth six-month
deployment. I ran into any number on their fourth or fifth six-month deployment.
I could go on with this. I ran into a sergeant in 3 PPCLI Battle Group, a supply
tech who had been a young private in 4 Combat Engineer Regiment when I commanded
it in 1992, when we deployed to Croatia as the first unit into that particular
conflict. That was his first mission. When I bumped into him in Afghanistan, he
was on his sixth mission.
They step up to the plate every time, of course. However, the other side to
this is its effect on family life. I asked him what his family situation was
like and he said, "I have been married and divorced since then." Of course,
that is a price that many are paying because of their enthusiasm and because of
the operational tempo, the rate of pace of operations in the Canadian Forces
with which you are already well familiar.
From a morale perspective, when it comes to a new mission, one would be hard
pressed to find anyone who does not want to take part. However, there is a price
to be paid for it. That price is growing.
Senator Meighen: Perhaps I could continue with your response to the
last question from Senator Smith. There is indeed a considerable price to be
paid for the dramatically increased tempo of operations in the army. General, I
may be wrong in saying that you may have left the impression that that is a
satisfactory price. I am not sure it is. I am not sure that family break-up on a
widespread scale, which I understand is happening because of the dramatically
increased tempo, is satisfactory to Canadians. Would you not agree that the
situation must be addressed, and that possibly the best way of addressing it is
to either reduce the tempo of operations or to increase the effective strength
of the military, in particular the army?
MGen. Gauthier: I hope I did not leave the impression that I believe
that this was a good thing in terms of marriage breakups and the wear and tear
on families — not for a minute. I feel very strongly about it. That is why I
gave you some of those facts and figures. I have many more. I spent two years
commanding Land Force Central Area, the army in Ontario, with 12,000 regular
reserve soldiers and civilians. This is the message, as many of you on the
committee have heard, on your visits.
Of course, from a serving officer's perspective, it is not about demanding
more money. I can only echo what the senior leadership and the minister himself
have said: It is about sustainability; it is about balance between tasks and
resources. One either reduces the tasks or increases the resources.
Senator Meighen: Hopefully, we will get on with one of those solutions
before too much longer.
Speaking of reservists, and given the reservists' fairly significant role in
Bosnia, Croatia and elsewhere, were there reservists with you, LCol. Stogran?
LCol. Stogran: For the most part, there were not. There may have been
individuals transparent to me within our national rear link, but certainly
amongst the combat and combat service support elements, there were no
Senator Meighen: Why was that?
LCol. Stogran: That is due to the nature of the rapid reaction and our
inability to actually maintain a constant state of readiness with reservists. I
worked within the third battalion with several regiments in Saskatchewan and
they were keen to be part of the immediate reaction force. When we thought we
might be going to Afghanistan, they were keen to be a part of that, but it was
just impossible, due to the prolonged wait, to actually embrace them as part of
Senator Meighen: What would you have done if the mission had been
prolonged? I understand it could not have been with the number of people we had
available. However, if there had been dire circumstances, would you have been
able to turn to reservists to fill your numbers?
LCol. Stogran: Do you mean while we were in theatre, if we had to wait
Senator Meighen: If you had to be there longer, yes.
LCol. Stogran: That would be a question for the force generators back
in Canada. I can say that, based on my experiences in my training with the third
battalion and the reservists, they were keen soldiers. I would have welcomed
them on to the team had they had the opportunity to train to a deployable level
Senator Meighen: How long would that take, given their present level?
LCol. Stogran: It really depends, I think, on how long it had been
since they may have been deployed on a Bosnia tour or something of that nature.
Normally, we like to have them for 90 days, sir.
MGen. Gauthier: Of course, that depends on the mission. For a mission
like Bosnia, it would be 90 days. For something much less benign, if I can put
it that way, such as Afghanistan, I would say we need much more than 90 days.
Senator Meighen: Were there any reported cases of PTSD since your
return, Colonel, and, if there were, what are you doing about them?
LCol. Stogran: PTSD, per se, is a difficult thing to quantify and
identify. I have been keeping in contact with some of my colleagues back in the
third battalion to see what sorts of problems may have manifested themselves in
the families and with the soldiers over the leave period, and — this is purely
anecdotal — there has been strain in some marriages. Whether that is related to
stress from the operation or to problems that existed before is difficult to
I can only speculate at this point in time, based on my dealings with the
experts that I had in theatre — I had social workers and my medical officers as
well as my padres — that we had a very effective coping mechanism in 3 PPCLI in
terms of talking it out and displaying our emotions.
Our padre, who is very experienced in deployments overseas, said she had
never seen the level of openness that she had experienced with the 3 PPCLI
battle group. Guys and girls wanted to talk about their problems. I expressed my
feelings to the troops also.
I remain hopeful that this sort of openness and ability that we had in
theatre, as well as during our debriefing period in Guam, will allow the
soldiers to unload their baggage and not keep it inside.
MGen. Gauthier: Senator, Col. Stogran is being humble here. I do not
think a battalion-sized unit has deployed out of this country in the last 10
years better prepared than 3 PPCLI to deal with the traumatic events that they
had to deal with. That had everything to do with the team he built, and his own
personal leadership prior to and during the deployment, to deal with precisely
that kind of situation. The human infrastructure, if I can put it that way, was
in place to cope, with all sorts of specialists, advisers and leaders throughout
his unit. One can only hope that that will have its effects in terms of low PTSD
incidence in the coming months and years.
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I would like to borrow one element
of Senator Meighen's question. What impact did the incident where four Canadians
soldiers were killed and others were wounded have on the morale of your troops?
It is one thing to go to war and face the enemy, but it is a different story
to feel threatened by the allies with whom we have joined forces.
Every time we sit in this chamber, we can see on its walls depictions of the
horrors of war: destruction, refugees, people losing their life, others facing
an uncertain future. We also realize that our troops cannot be protected against
friendly fire. In your assessment, could the incidents you experienced have been
avoided had there been heightened cooperation with the American forces?
LCol. Stogran: Senator, you are right. For a soldier there is no more
demoralizing way to lose troops than through a fratricide incident. I know we
pushed the limits of safety in our own training in order to polish our tactics,
techniques and procedures to face al-Qaeda, and I lived in fear every day that
we would have a fratricide incident of our own to deal with.
Professional soldiers try to condition themselves every day they wear the
green uniform for the possibility of losing friends, and I know I faced it and
lived it with our soldiers. It is a difficult thing to get through.
In our case, I think the openness of the battalion was instrumental in
allowing us to get on with the mission, and also the amazing outpouring of
support from Canadians overwhelmed us. Soldiers really do have to have an
ability to bury their dead and get on with their mission.
We were at one with Task Force Rakkasan. We fought with them and we also
grieved together. Col.Wiercinski shared our grief just as if we were American.
We were part of Task Force Rakkasan. Internally, within the task force, I am
absolutely confident that we had all of the mechanisms in place to ensure, to
the best of our abilities, from the land side of things, that the chance of
fratricide was minimalized, despite the dangerous nature of everything we were
I could not, however, comment in an educated fashion about the mechanisms
that existed between the ground force, my immediate commander and the Air Force,
which was really, on that fateful night, beyond our comprehension on the ground,
that element in the sky, because there are so many moving parts up there. I
could not really give an informed position on those sorts of mechanisms.
Senator Joyal: Without getting into the details of the investigation
conducted, what changes or initiatives would you recommend to prevent this kind
of incident in the future?
LCol. Stogran: Again, as an infantry officer, I could not comment on
how we would synchronize air and land forces to prevent an accident of that
nature. All I can say is I am confident that among the ground forces operating
in the area, Tarnak Farm was a recognized training venue for ground troops,
Kandahar was a recognized base for ground troops, and we had mechanisms in place
to work with the Air Force in terms of when Hercules and transport aircraft were
coming into the theatre. I could not begin to comment on how the coordination of
the fighter aircraft could be enhanced or improved.
Senator Joyal: I would like to come back to the issue of refugees and
the condition of civilians. There have been more civilian casualties than
al-Qaeda combatants taken out of action. Could you describe to us the relief
that was to be provided as part of the operation, both by Canada and by allied
nations? Based on your hands-on experience, would you say sufficient relief was
provided to alleviate the situation of the civilians affected by the conflict?
LCol. Stogran: At the risk of sounding like I am avoiding another
issue, I could not really comment on the capacity of the humanitarian aid
agencies in the area. I can also say that, during our time in theatre with Task
Force Rakkasan, the number of civilian casualties, right up until the last
month, was an absolute minimum.
I can also say that when there were casualties amongst the civil population
in the area of the Kandahar airfield, our coalition partners made their medical
facilities readily available. I can think of no occasion on which there were
injuries inflicted by armaments that our American hosts did not treat the local
populace. That extends to the incident in Deh Rawud, where there was an alleged
bombing of a wedding ceremony. Task Force Rakkasan took an active interest in
treating all of the civilian casualties and diverting resources to the hospital
facility in the city of Kandahar, to assist in the treatment of those who were
injured in that particular encounter.
MGen. Gauthier: General Franks has also asked this question. Does
security lead to humanitarian aid, or does it precede it? Or does humanitarian
aid lead to a more secure situation? This question is one that is debated not
only by the military, but also by aid organizations.
Senator Atkins: Madam Chair, we should congratulate MGen. Gauthier on
MGen. Gauthier: Thank you.
Senator Atkins: We will be watching to see whether LCol. Stogran gets
another stripe soon.
What equipment could you have used in Afghanistan that was not available to
you that might have been part of the coalition forces other than ours?
LCol. Stogran: I would have to review the wish list that we submitted
to MGen. Gauthier for his approval.
I understand that, back in Canada, the uniforms were a contentious issue. It
would have been nice to have an arid- patterned uniform, but I can say, in all
honesty, that we would not have worn them all the time. When we deployed in
mountain operations, it was much like Kananaskis country, and we were well
served by the green uniforms.
We could have used some of what we refer to as "gaiters," which are small
all-terrain vehicles, not much bigger than a garden tractor. We had requested
those. They are flexible enough to load on helicopters and bring them around
There are all sorts of things that we asked for that probably would have
enhanced us to a degree, but no real showstoppers that come to mind at this
MGen. Gauthier: There was a long list of needs and wants from the
battle group. On each of my four visits to the battle group, this was their
number one frustration. Since they were in a unique environment, they had asked
for any number of unique pieces of equipment that are not normally in an
infantry battalion. Those needs and wants butted up against a couple of things.
One is the process issue, where I will say, and I have said in my after-action
report in our lessons learned, that our material management process, our
procurement system, the system and the process whereby we get the right piece of
equipment to the right place at the right time, is not sufficiently responsive
to operational needs. I have said that, and it is an issue that is being looked
at closely as a result of this operation.
The other issue, of course, is that there are different realities at
different levels. The soldier's reality in the trench is different from the
strategic reality, and all along the way, in that gap between the two, are
decision makers who get to make decisions about whether or not something is
In my view, a combination of both of those caused us to be not nearly as
successful as we should have been in getting 3 PPCLI the equipment they felt
they needed to get the job done.
Senator Atkins: Are there things you believe were done well, and are
there things that you would change or do over if given another opportunity?
LCol. Stogran: At the risk of sounding like I am bragging, senator, at
the end of the tour, my field officers and I did our own after-action review and
asked that very question. Although we were busy patting ourselves on the back
for doing an excellent job, we had to ask ourselves what we should have done
There were some minor problems along the way; however, I do not really think
we would have done anything drastically different. Perhaps we are not being
rigorous enough in our own analysis.
MGen. Gauthier may say there are some things he wishes I had done
Senator Atkins: Is there anything you would change in the training
manual as a result of Afghanistan?
LCol. Stogran: To the contrary, senator, that is the great asset that
we have to contribute to any coalition — the highly trained, experienced
soldiers we have in the Canadian military. We have many soldiers who have
experienced training in Germany, in the airborne regiment, and have done
world-class courses with different armies in the world. That is tempered with
their experiences in peace support operations. We have a unique culture and, in
terms of our training and background, something beneficial in a coalition
MGen. Gauthier: The number one positive lesson from my perspective,
the message I gave to NDHQ when I got back, was that effective leadership,
together with effective training, produces world-class soldiers. We have been
doing that right for some time in the Canadian military. There is a long list of
things I feel we did well. There is an equally long list of things that we can
improve upon, and those have been captured in the lessons-learned process.
Senator Grafstein: I would like to add my words of welcome to MGen.
Gauthier. I understand our notes are incorrect in regard to your rank. Your
status has been improved dramatically, perhaps in anticipation of this meeting.
I also wish to extend a warm welcome to LCol. Stogran.
We in Ontario are also proud of the Princess Pat's. As a cadet officer back
in London, Ontario, in the 1940s and 1950s, I was privileged to be associated
with the Princess Pat's then under the leadership of General Rockingham, who
served with great distinction during the Korean War. Your most recent mission is
an added embellishment to the Princess Pat's long history of great success, for
which we commend you.
My first question is a follow-up on the oversight and interface in the
command structure with respect to attack aircraft while the battalion was on the
ground. Again, listening carefully to LCol. Stogran, he indicated that while he
was satisfied — and I do not want to take his words out of context — that he was
covered off with respect to the logistical backup with respect to the Hercules
and so on, there was an open question with respect to attack aircraft like the
Looking backwards now, in terms of that horrible incident, MGen. Gauthier,
are you satisfied that there was sufficient interface between the Canadian
command structure of the battalion and the American overall command structure so
that a similar incident might be avoided in the future?
MGen. Gauthier: Unequivocally, sir, I am satisfied. I think you could
just as easily, on that night, have had an American battalion doing the same
training in the same location and with the same pilots potentially in the same
circumstances — the same bomb would have dropped on American soldiers rather
than Canadian soldiers.
Senator Kinsella: On a point of order, I wonder whether honourable
senators would agree to continue for another 15 minutes, if our witnesses are
able to stay on another 15 minutes. We are getting close to 3:30.
The Chairman: I would point out to the Senate that, after Senator
Grafstein, I still have Senators Stratton, Mahovlich and Tkachuk on a first
round, and then four senators on a second round. It would be nice to complete a
Senator Carstairs: I have no objection to that, but it cannot go
Senator St. Germain: I would like to be on the list as well, Madam
The Chairman: I apologize; I did not see you, senator.
Is it agreed, honourable senators, that we will continue for a further 15
minutes, until 3:45?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: I would ask honourable senators to confine their
questions to very short ones.
Senator Grafstein: Colonel, did your mission change once you got to
Afghanistan? We understand that you were originally responsible, in terms of
your first engagement, with respect to guarding the airfield at Kandahar. Did
the type and variety of mission change sufficiently to put you in a position
where you felt fully prepared for these changes? Can you provide us with a
description of what the changes were, if there were change from your original
mission, which was, as I understand it, guarding the airport at Kandahar?
LCol. Stogran: Honourable senators, the mandate I was given when I
left the country included the four tasks, first of which was the defence of the
airfield proper. When I arrived in theatre, I came under the operational control
of the local commander, Col. Wiercinski. We fit in as another one of his
battalions. He had a rotation scheme such that one of his battalions would be
responsible for defending the perimeter of the airfield. Another would be in
what we call the force projection role or the combat role for operations outside
the perimeter. We were rotated in that sort of sequence. He also had another
battalion that was responsible for security duties in Pakistan, but we were
precluded from that.
Prior to the rotation Col. Wiercinski, and Col. Linnington subsequently,
would ensure that we were fully briefed on the possibility of upcoming offensive
operations when we were about to go into that combat role. Although our first
offensive mission was Operation Harpoon up into the Shaw-I-Cot Valley, which was
very much just in time due to the nature of the battle that had been going on in
the Shaw-I-Cot Valley with the 101 Airborne against al-Qaeda, we always had a
great deal of time to prepare for our operations in detail to ensure we had the
proper intelligence picture. Force protection was also a primary concern for me.
We did not, except in the first case, feel rushed in an operation. Even in the
example of the assault in the Shaw-I- Cot Valley, it is again a tribute to the
professionalism of the Canadian soldiers and commanders in that we were doing
what we call parallel planning at all levels from section platoon company as
well as battalion. I feel confident in saying that all of the soldiers were well
informed and ready to launch into Operation Harpoon.
Senator Stratton: Welcome, gentlemen. I should like to refer to the
friendly fire incident once again. There are reports today that soldiers from
the Princess Patricia's battle group were ordered to check fire only minutes
before the friendly fire incident. Is this true and, if so, why were Canadian
troops ordered to check fire?
LCol. Stogran: Honourable senators, in our training around the
Kandahar airfield, check fires were a regular occurrence. I could not comment on
the claim that the check fire had been issued only minutes prior to the actual
attack. There was a check fire shortly before, but the time frame escapes me
right now, whether or not it was five minutes.
I knew that our procedures were very much in tune with the ground force
commander, Col. Wiercinski, and Task Force Rakkasan. I have always been
confident that if negligence were involved in the decision of the pilots,
justice would take its course. I also knew that, unfortunately, all sorts of
arguments would be brought out by the defence in trying to cast reasonable doubt
on the incidents of that night. All of the members of the battle group,
including myself, are confident that we were doing everything that could be
done, and that the area was recognized as a training area. The unfortunate thing
is that the families witness arguments of this nature. These types of arguments
have been leveraged in the press since the military tribunal began.
Senator Stratton: I appreciate that answer. What are the normal
circumstances, or can you describe to us what the circumstances would be for a
check fire? Is a list of criteria followed, or is it just reaction to whatever
is taking place?
LCol. Stogran: Very often, we were issuing check fires because of the
approach of cargo aircraft into the Kandahar airfield. We had a procedure where,
initially, the tower would phone down to our battalion headquarters and issue
the check fire in that manner. If I am not mistaken, as a result of the
accident, we tried to impose stricter control. I may be a little off on the
actual details, but the expectation was that we would actually provide someone
in the tower. I cannot remember if that was actually a result of fallout from
the accident, or if that was the practice prior to the incident.
Senator Mahovlich: I also wish to express my congratulations to the
Major-General and to the Lieutenant Colonel for a job well done.
Many people characterize war as hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by
moments of sheer terror, much like professional sports; is that a correct way to
describe your mission?
LCol. Stogran: Honourable senators, I will start off by saying what an
honour it is to see an old hockey idol of mine.
In response to your question, it is interesting that you cite that quote.
From the very time we deployed and I met the soldiers in Afghanistan, I used
virtually the same words: that they can expect long periods of boredom
punctuated by short periods of sheer terror. We did experience that. I felt
that, next to the al-Qaeda, our biggest threat would be complacency, especially
in view of the extreme climatic conditions that I knew we would be experiencing
The leadership rose to the challenge and kept the troops on a fighting edge.
We maintained an aggressive training program at Tarnak Farm to try to avoid that
feeling of complacency that could have overcome us.
Senator Mahovlich: I spent most of my life waiting for buses, trains,
flights and everything else.
Did the troops have any time off from their operational mission? If so, what
did they do with their free time? Was there any Canadian entertainment that
visited Afghanistan while you were deployed?
LCol. Stogran: Honourable senators, because of the unique nature of
this particular deployment, we did not have the opportunity to do the normal
leave rotation period. We implemented a plan in consultation and coordination
with Tampa that we referred to as the "forced rest program" whereby we rotated
every soldier out of the theatre into Dubai for a period of 96 hours. That was a
tremendously successful program. We rotated 850 soldiers through this forced
rest program. We did not have a single incident; by that I mean a criminal
offence, an injury or anything of that nature.
It was also therapeutic for the troops that National Defence Headquarters and
the decision makers allowed the soldiers to purchase, at the expense of the
Crown, a limited degree of civilian clothing. Normally, we would send soldiers
off and expect them to wear their physical training gear or something of that
nature. This was an extremely successful program. The troops came back charged
and ready to carry on with their mission.
We also had a Canadian contingent entertainment troop, a first class
professional group that came and performed. They had dancers, singers and
comedians at Kandahar. I was especially proud on that occasion because of the
standard of the entertainment. It was a performance that even our American
colleagues were impressed with. We were provided those types of rest and
Senator Mahovlich: Major-General, Canadian troops were not as prepared
for war as they were 11 years ago for Desert Storm; is that a fair statement?
MGen. Gauthier: I could not begin to comment on that, other than to
say that, in my personal experience of the last six months, the actions of 3
PPCLI demonstrate that, in this particular instance, we were prepared.
Senator Tkachuk: Welcome, gentlemen. I would like to thank you on
behalf of the people of Saskatchewan for your superb effort in Afghanistan. Just
lately, we have had a young man killed in Bali during a terrorist act, so that
is hitting close to home.
LCol. Stogran, I believe you are on record as stating that the future of
ground operations rests on air transport ability. Apart from having fun
reporting on the uniform issue, the media were also talking about the question
of our being able to move our troops from Canada to Afghanistan and the
situation that we were in. I also understand that the army commander is
considering eliminating the parachute battalions.
Based on what happened and what you learned in Afghanistan, could you comment
on what happened in relation to the movement of the troops and our ability to
rely on the American planes to do that? How would the loss of the paratroops
LCol. Stogran: I can only echo my earlier comments about our
deployment out there, from my perspective as a commander on the ground. The air
movement was as flawless as we could expect, including our movements between
Kandahar airfield and up to the Baghran airfield, as well as with respect to the
use of helicopters. We were very well served by the air transport ability.
My personal opinion would be that the loss of the parachute capability would
be a travesty. I have been on the record in suggesting that the asymmetric
threat is the threat of the 21st century, and we have to have the capability to
react quickly. The parachute capability remains a valid one. However, in this
day and age, in our army, nothing is really sacrosanct from the cuts.
Also, despite the fact that I am a light warrior and a paratrooper, I am a
proponent of the tank, which we have also considered doing away with. We have
been asked to do a great deal more with a great deal less and unfortunately, at
some point in time, those kinds of capabilities will be considered for cuts.
Senator Tkachuk: Do you feel that the proposed reorganizations in the
battalions are driven by operational concerns or is the issue, as you seem to
imply, a matter of money?
LCol. Stogran: Sir, I will be able to comment on that a little better
after I have assumed my next job and am actually part of that process. As MGen.
Gauthier and the Chief of Land Staff have mentioned, there is a balance of
capability and sustainability, and you cannot really have one without the other.
We have to maintain a balance. At some time it is necessary to assess the risk
and what capability you can do without, in order to achieve sustainability. It
is almost a matter of what comes first: the chicken or the egg.
The Chairman: Major-General, would you care to comment on that?
MGen. Gauthier: You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the
building in which I work who would suggest that cash is not an issue. Of course
it is absolutely an issue.
Senator Tkachuk: Since you answered in that way, I understand that
money is driving these decisions; in other words, there is not a question of
choices in operations. These are being driven by budget cuts.
MGen. Gauthier: There is a whole host of factors but, at the end of
the day, you will have capability to the extent that you can afford to have
capability. Every military around the world faces the same challenge. Their
decisions will be guided by funding envelopes as well as other elements of
policy decisions on tasks and the nature of the forces that we desire.
The Chairman: Thank you. The time for Committee of the Whole will
expire at 3:45.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I move that the committee rise
at 3:45 and that the Chair report that the committee has concluded
Senator St. Germain: On a point of order, I raised my hand to be put
on the list of questioners for this committee.
Madam Chair, I know you would not discriminate against anybody because of
where they come from, but as a Westerner and a Canadian Alliance senator, I
would have liked to ask a question. In any event, if that is not possible,
congratulations, gentlemen; you are doing a great job.
The Chairman: Thank you, Senator St. Germain.
Senator Kinsella: Question.
The Chairman: Before I put the question, I would like to add my thanks
to the witnesses. You have done a fine job for Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Chairman: Honourable senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, the sitting is
Hon. Lorna Milne: The Committee of the Whole, which received MGen.
Michel Gauthier and LCol. Pat Stogran, has asked me to report that the committee
has concluded its deliberations.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker informed the Senate that a message had
been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-14, to provide for controls
on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a
certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's
obligations under the Kimberley Process.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill
be read the second time?
On motion of Senator Carstairs, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for
second reading two days hence.