Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Wednesday, July 18, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

Deployment

12 December 92

The Americans landed in Mogadishu a few days ago and were mobbed by media instead of Somalis.  So far they have just secured the port and the airport.  Relief workers in Kismayu have been taken hostage by the Somalis and the remaining aid workers in the country have been advised to leave for Kenya. 

Boutros-Ghali wants a commitment from the US to keep the troops in Somali until the feuding clans are disarmed, the drug trade is surpressed and a police force is set up.  The Americans are not willing to commit to this indefinate timeline though, saying that they expect all operations to be completed in four to six months.

2 Commando, our advance party finally left this weekend after a delay because of a bad snowstorm and we will follow between the 27th and the 1st of January. We are going to a large airstrip about 100 km's west of Mogadishu. It is an old military airfield and is now the major airport used by the drug smugglers in the region to bring in quat. It is a key point right in the middle of the 'triangle.'

16 December 92

We received an extremely detailed Intelligence briefing this morning, more shots and our malaria pills. Now I am off for 10 days Christmas leave. I have to be back at 11:00 hrs on the 26th and will be leaving Trenton for Djibouti at 06:00 the next day. From there we will fly directly to Bale Dogle.  Apparently much of our equipment on one of the supply ships was damaged or destroyed during a bad storm. A diesel tanker broke loose. To top that, our second ship hasn't been heard from for days. It looks like we will be living out of our rucks for awhile.

Meanwhile in Somalia, US and French troops are moving into Baidoa, one of the centers of fighting in Somalia. It is estimated that 10,000 people have died in Baidoa in the past few months.  The last aid convoy to Baidoa, on Nov 12 was ambushed just outside of Mogadishu.  As the coalition troops advance, the bandits are fleeing further inland which should make our job more difficult.  2 Commando has landed and secured Baledogle, a former Soviet airbase about halfway between Mogadishu and Baidoa.

21 December 92

US and Belgian troops moved into the Southern Port of Kismayu meeting little resistence.  Colonel Omar Jess of the Somali Patriotic Movement met the coalition commander and promised to co-operate.  Since no ship has been able to dock in Kismayu since October 3, the move into the port is vital in the supply effort.  Relief workers there have reported that about 100 people were killed in targeted clan executions which erupted after local militias clashed over whether to resist the coalition troops.

2 Commando has begun escorting aid to some of the outlying villages around Beladogle.  16 of them provided security for and aid convoy to the village of Wanlaweyn.  Also, an aid convoy from Mogadishu to Baidoa made it through yesterday.  This is the first convoy to make it through since last summer.

27 December 92

After 9 hours of delays we are finally away. We stop off in Gander to refuel then are off to Créte.  I have ten rounds of ancient 9 mm ammo in my pocket. They date back to World War Two, but they are all I have. The airforce refuses to let us bring ammunition on the plane, but I refuse to go into a hostile country unarmed, so I sneak these few rounds on board with me. The airforce has been at peace too long.  They would rather risk our lives by flying us into a war zone unarmed than allow live ammunition on the same plane that carries troops.  Their logic baffles me.  Before boarding the plane, I had to put my pistol through the x-ray machine at the airport and walk through the metal detector.  They are so used to following the book that they can no longer see the lunacy of their actions in situations like this.

We are heading for Mogadishu, the capital and the center of operations in Somalia.  Once there we will board C-130 Hercules and fly up to Beled Weyne and secure the airstrip there.  Beled Weyne is a large city of about 200,000 people northwest of Mogadishu near the Ethiopian border.

28 December 92

At about 08:00 local time we land in Créte. We stand on the runway in the rain as they refuel the plane and change the crew, but we are glad for the stretch after seven hours flying from Gander. All we can see of Créte are distant snow covered mountains through the rain. It is a cool 8oC, but a nice change from the cold Canadian weather.

After an hour and a half we are back on the plane and heading towards Mogadishu. Strangely I am not nervous as I had expected to be, just anxious to see what it will be like.

Another seven hours and we are circling off the coast of Mogadishu. Below us is the American fleet sitting just off shore, countless ships out to the horizon. The city is huge, much larger than I thought it would be, spreading out as far as the eye can see. It is a short city. All the buildings are small, white, and about one or two floors high.

The airport is a hub of activity. Troops of all nationalities are camped along the edge of the airstrip. Vehicles and planes run everywhere. The hangers are crumbling shells with men hiding in the little shade they provide. Scattered everywhere are reminders of the war, bombed out buildings, old Somali jets, destroyed vehicles and the U.S.C. (United Somali Congress) graffiti on everything.

It is too late to head to Beled Weyne today so we pull into a modular tent in the Canadian lines and settle down for the night. The temperature is about 35o to 40oC when we land, but as the sun goes down so does the temperature. To pass the time we all take turns having our heads shaved by Pat.  With the rush of a few short days of Christmas with our families, most of us neglected to do this before we left.

I lay on the ground crowded by the others.  I cannot sleep.  Throughout the night my mind races with the anxiety of flying into Beled Weyne tomorrow.

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