|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
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
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
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