Somalia Medal The Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia
A Soldier's Journals
Tuesday, January 23, 2018  

Somalia '93




 

First Patrol into the Desert

22 January 93

This morning, our platoon headed out on a two day patrol down the Mogadishu highway. Our platoon split up with bravo and charlie sections going with the engineers to check suspected mine fields and us along with alpha touring the villages on a hearts and minds campaign.

We passed three or four small villages before we finally stopped at a small village called Treejante. Lt Webb talked to the village elders and filled out a report on the town while the rest of us walked around the village handing out Canada flag pins and talked with the locals.

The villagers told us that the last time soldiers were in this village they lined up five children on the road and ran them down with their vehicles. To Siad Barre's troops, that was a show of force.

How much better are we? These people are starving, begging us for help and all we do is shake their hands and give them Canada pins then tear apart their homes searching for weapons.

From there we headed north again to meet up with an American Special Forces A team. Next we stopped at in a town called Beerxaano and tried to talk to the villagers there, but no-one spoke english. I talked briefly in Somali with one man, Ahmed Hussein, but only learned where the mosque was.

Just north of Beerxaano we met up with the rest of the platoon and pulled into a hide for lunch. They hadn't found any evidence of the mine fields they had been searching for.

After lunch, the entire platoon headed even further south to Nuur Fanax where we turned east off the main road up a dirt track. About ten kilometers up the road we came across a destroyed water truck. This was the location of another suspected minefield, so we began to search. There were no mines, but the truck had definitely hit an anti-tank mine. Probably just one of the many lone mines scattered along these tracks.

Further along we found a deserted village. It appeared that the only remaining residents were those resting in the overly large graveyard. We explored about six kilometers further then turned back to the highway for the night.

We set up a defensive position on a hill overlooking the highway.  Each of us build up small stone walls for protection and lay down in the dirt beside them to sleep.

23 January 93

Last night at about 3:30 a.m. two pickups approached our roadblock at high speed, spaced about 500 metres apart.  2 Section called stand-to, put up paraflares and attempted to stop the vehicles.  The lead vehicle sped up and made it by our position.  Darnell fired warning shots, but the lead vehicle got away.  Seeing that he was trapped the second driver abandoned his vehicle and ran off into the desert.  We brought the vehicle, a tan Toyota Land Cruiser pickup into our compound after searching it.  This morning as we were preparing to leave, the owner of the truck showed up to claim it. He said it was stolen the night before in a town south of here and he was on his way to Beled Weyne to search for it.

We patrolled south along the highway then headed West towards the river along dirt tracks. When we pulled into the first village everyone hid from us. Gradually people started coming out. Even though there are many huts in this village, most are deserted. Most of the children seem to be retarded either from disease or malnutrition.

I wonder how anyone can live here. It is barren for miles in every direction, broken only by the small thorn bushes that grow everywhere. There is no well in this village, only the river which is still several kilometers away.

We spent the afternoon driving through every village along the river on our way back to Beled Weyne. We stopped and searched a few huts, but mostly we just waved at the people as we drove by.

The racism and closed mindedness of some of the troops continues to astound me. They are turning their own hardships and poor morale against the Somalis. They continue to believe that these people are just backwards and can't be helped. As if any other country would be in better shape after years of drought, war and oppression. One only has to look at the amount of equipment we require to survive in this environment to know who is incompetent.

Even though I understand why the others think the way they do, it hurts my morale and hampers our mission here. After all, how much will we help a people we care nothing about?

Everyone is looking for an excuse to open. I really believe that the only thing preventing a killing is our strict orders and the belief they will be charged if they do. Still, they look for excuses to and as the situation continues to degenerate they will find ways to get around orders and the law to take out their frustrations on the people, whether deserved or not.

Unless peoples attitudes change, shit is going to start to happen. It has only been one month, what is it going to be like in another four or five? Will I be able to prevent what I know is wrong, or will I too eventually succumb to the pressures? We may soon learn about our dark side.

I try drinking, but the two beer ration doesn't even touch it, so instead I crank my Walkman. At least while drowning in deafening music I can't think. It is my mind, not the Somalis, that will destroy me here.

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