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
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
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
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.