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by Stephen Lautens


February 1, 2002

I sort of feel responsible for the predicament our troops find themselves in on their way to Afghanistan.

It was reported last week that our troops have a couple of problems participating in the peacekeeping in Afghanistan. Unlike the Americans, Canadians could find Afghanistan on a map before the war. The problem is, we have no way to get there. It sounds like the government might have originally bought them all Canada 3000 tickets, but it just turns out that we're a little short on transport.

The Americans have allowed us to hitch a ride, so it looks like we're going to get to Afghanistan after all before the peace is over and their next tribal war begins.

Then we discovered our next problem. It turns out the Canadian Armed Forces sold all of their desert camouflage uniforms from the Gulf War to army surplus stores. Now, no one likes a clothes horse, but I doubt anyone would object to our soldiers having a spare set of fatigues in the closet. Maybe the Canadian military has the same trouble I do - not enough closet space.

To give them credit, our troops do have smart new camouflage. It's green and brown and has jazzy little squares all over it. It's called "Canadian Disruptive Pattern", which sounds more like they're describing the Alliance caucus than clothing.

The uniforms are green because someone decided that our soldiers would likely be fighting their next action in those well-known international hot spots - the forests of Canada and northern Europe. I mean, after the Gulf War, what were the odds that we'd be needed again in some sandy, third world dump? Everyone knows they don't cause any trouble. Who we should really be keeping our eye on are those rambunctious northern European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands in case we're called in to do some peacekeeping there.

Which brings me back to why I feel somewhat responsible for our brave troops' predicament. When the Canadian Armed Forces dumped their desert uniforms a few years back I'm pretty sure I bought a pair of the pants at my local army surplus store. They're great for wearing while cutting the lawn or doing yard work, or sneaking up on the neighbourhood kids playing in the sandbox.

In fact I have several pairs of camouflage pants in my closet - four to be precise, which is three more than our soldiers. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a paintballer and don't belong to a group of weekend warriors who crawl around in the mud and have a year's worth of canned goods in the basement. They're just well-made pants with lots of pockets and a hint of Schwartzenegger for the flabby 40-somethings.

But I'd hate to think that someone has to walk around Afghanistan dressed up the same colour as a Christmas tree because of me.

I'd gladly give them back too, but our military has come up with another solution. Our troops have been told that they can wrap themselves in their brown blankets to blend in to the desert environment. All they need is to be carrying a cup of coffee and the rest of the world is going to think Canada is sending its homeless to Afghanistan.

Besides, what's the point of going there if we're just going to be invisible?

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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