Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Wednesday, October 1, 2014  

Somalia '93




 

Somalia Journals - Introduction

Canada Somalia

I was with 3 Commando of the Canadian Airborne Regiment for over five years, from 1990 until after the disbandment in 95. Late in 1992, the Airborne was sent to Somalia on a "Peace Enforcement" mission. Most Canadians have heard about what happened in Somalia, but many of the facts are clouded by media sensationalism. While in-excusable, what happened in Somalia must be understood in the context of the situation and not attributed to the easy scapegoats of racism or poor leadership. While none of us will dispute the lack of integrity and leadership at the command level, our leaders at the platoon and commando level were of a high standard. It is only at the higher levels that the corruption and self-interests highlighted by the inquiry became evident. 3 Commando on Patrol

The men of the Airborne Regiment represented the best that the military and Canada had to offer. They were professionals in a military that is currently lacking that quality. The Airborne Regiment represented a cross section of Canadian society. Thus the dark side of human nature that was illuminated in Somalia is inside all Canadians.

Also of interest are the theories that the experimental Malaria drugs we were taking could have caused some of the violent behavior. I can attest to the extremely violent and disturbing nightmares we experienced after taking the drugs. The thought that this violence could have spilt over into our daily lives is particularly unsettling. Peter Worthington's article on this, Did We Poison our Somalia Soldiers? is interesting reading.

To help people better understand what happened in Somalia, I am opening my journals to the public. Only by living in our boots can anyone understand the forces that were at work against us and the extreme emotional and physical stresses that we faced. What you will read here is uncensored, the good mixed with the bad. Try not to judge us, but place yourself in our situation. How would you react to the things we saw and experienced?

This journal may seem to contradict itself in places. It was written day to day in Somalia based on what we knew and experienced at the time. Often our attitudes changed from day to day based on what we experienced, but I have left the words I wrote in Africa stand. To understand what happened in Somalia, what we perceived at the time as true and how we reacted to those perceptions is just as important, if not more so, than was actually true. To that end, these journals have been edited only for clarity and I have not let the benefit of hindsight change them.

I hope that by doing this, I can give the reader a sense of what it was like to be deployed to Somalia - the culture shock, frustration, confusion and extreme boredom. I've tried to show how our attitudes towards the Somalis changed over time and how what we saw affected us. This may then provide a greater understanding of why the things that happened did. Some of the things I say may further tarnish the Airborne’s reputation, but I hope that it will become clear that what happened was a product of the extreme situations we faced. The events that transpired that dark night in the bunker in Beled Weyne were not the result of sending Airborne troops to Somalia, but of the horrors and culture shock that young Canadians were forced to endure totally unprepared.

I am confident that if it was any other unit thrust into the same situation in Somalia, more incidents would have transpired. Airborne soldiers were the most professional and mature that the Canadian Forces had to offer. The inexperience and young age of the majority of soldiers in other units would have produced even more incidents, as the record of the other countries' contingents in Somalia highlights.

I am always eager to hear peoples comments on these pages.  Please feel free to share your views with others in the Commando.org Forums, or if you prefer to keep it private, write to me directly using the Contact Form.

If you want to learn more about the Airborne or Somalia, I have put together a list of books that I recommend. Purchase your books through this page and a portion of the sale will go towards maintaining this site.

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