Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Sad Day at Tarin Kowt........

Last Saturday afternoon, during the regular site visits, inspections and meetings around Camp Holland, there was a strange feeling about, I had heard a lot of Helicopter activity overnight and could see that there were a lot of tired and weary soliders around the base.

A colleague of mine I met for lunch informed me that he had heard that there was a lot of action last night and that there were casualties in the Base Hospital, later on that evening, we heard the very sad news that three Australian Soldiers had lost their lives in an incident out on a Patrol Base from here, you could see the distress on the faces of every Australian I met that evening.

At a regular meeting that I have with our own clients, who are Officers in the Australian Army, I conveyed the sympathies of our contingent here in Tarin Kowt and they went on to express how shocked they were at the events and how the news was being taken back at home....

It transpired that the three Soldiers were training the Afghan Army, as a major part of ISAF's objectives here is to develop and train an Afghan Army and Police Force that can establish and maintain order in this "wild west" nation. On a routine morning Parade Drill, an ANA soldier had pulled an automatic weapon and fatally injured three Australian soldiers, an Interpreter and up to seven other soldiers.

On Monday last, I was invited to attend the Repatriation Ceremony for the three fallen soldiers at the Gym here and later on the airstrip as the soldiers were farewelled by their colleagues here at Tarin Kowt.

In a very touching and emotional few hours, what seemed to be the entire population of the base , both Military and Civilian lined the roads leading from the Gym to the waiting C-130 Hercules Aircraft in complete silence while a lone piper lead the three armoured vehicles carrying the coffins of each fallen soldier, flanked by a guard of honour from their closest comrades.

For me this again demonstrates, firstly, how these brave men and women come from thousands of miles away to this country and work so hard to do their duty, trying to stabilise and establish a nation here that has been so ravaged by decades of war, and secondly how futile it must feel to those same soldiers, their politicians and their families back home that they should die in such a way, where they have been giving of their time and expertise to help and are attacked for it....thus seems to be the way in this country. Where are we now, 10 years into a conflict that just does not seem to be any closer to a conclusion ?....

It was a sombre day on Tuesday last all around the Base here, I again send my deepest sysmpathies to the families of all those who have lost lives in this country and can only hope that someday this beautiful, conflicted, harsh, severe and sad country can find a way to be peaceful and prosper again....