June 7th 2010
Source: Matthew Fisher , Canwest News Service
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Sgt. Martin Goudreault, of 1 Combat
Engineer Regiment in Edmonton, became the 147th Canadian to die in
Afghanistan when he was killed by a homemade landmine just before
dawn on Sunday while on a foot patrol about 15 kilometres southwest
of Kandahar City.
Sgt. Goudreault, who was known as Marty to his friends, was from
Sudbury, Ont., and had just begun his third tour in Afghanistan. The
sapper was leading a patrol comprised of other members of the Royal
Canadian Regiment battle group near the town of Nakhoney, when he
was killed by the improvised explosive device.
Sgt. Goudreault’s patrol had earlier been searching for weapon
caches in a remote part of Panjwaii District, which was controlled
by the Taliban until Canadian Forces cleared the area of insurgents
and began living among the population there several months ago.
“If your way of life was in peril, you would want someone like Sgt.
Martin Goudreault to show up and offer you help,” said Brig.-Gen.
Jon Vance, the Task Force Kandahar commander.
“Sgt. Goudreault died doing what he loved best: leading his section
from the front. His subordinates and superiors alike will remember
him as a tireless leader who was passionate about his work.
Brig.-Gen. Vance’s remarks were his first public comments since
being named nine days ago as an emergency replacement for Brig.-Gen.
Daniel Ménard who was suddenly sent home amid allegations of a sex
scandal. Brig.-Gen. Vance arrived back in Kandahar four days ago. He
was the task force commander here last year.
Sgt. Goudreault, 35, was on his fifth foreign tour. Although based
in Western Canada, the Franco-Ontarian was attached to a unit from
Petawawa, Ont., for this rotation in Afghanistan.
“Recognized early in his career for his leadership, Martin was a
tremendous asset to his battle group and Task Force Kandahar,”
Brig.-Gen. Vance said. “Always looking for a challenge, Martin was a
qualified combat diver and had the highest personal standards of
technical and tactical expertise.”
The bulk of Canada’s combat forces are now concentrated in Panjwaii,
which senior NATO officers have often said is one of the most
volatile areas in Kandahar and a key to rolling back the Taliban
across their heartland in the south.
With Sgt. Goudreault’s death, nine Canadian soldiers have died in
Afghanistan this year. The last to die before Sgt. Goudreault was
Trooper Larry Rudd of the Royal Canadian Dragoons on May 24.
Thirty-two Canadians died in Afghanistan last year and in 2008. The
worst year for Canadian casualties was 2006, when 36 soldiers died.
Four other NATO troops also died on Sunday, three of them in a
vehicle mishap in the south of the country.
Like Sgt. Goudreault, more than two-thirds of the Canadians who have
been killed in Afghanistan have driven or walked over improvised
explosive devices buried in the dirt by insurgents. Relatively few
of the Canadians who have died were killed in direct combat with the
According to statistics compiled the New America Foundation and
cited by the Marine Times, there has been a 600% increase in IED
strikes between 2004 and 2009.
Although NATO has had about 7,000 fewer troops fighting in Kandahar
than Helmand, the number of IED strikes was nearly double in
Kandahar than in the neighbouring province, the Washington-based
think tank said.
Through the end of June 2009, more than 2,300 soldiers and civilians
had been killed by IEDs in Kandahar compared with about 1,200 in
Helmand, the foundation said.
NATO conducted major combat operations in Helmand three months ago.
But the focus of its attention is turning to Kandahar this summer.
Canada commands a joint Canadian force of about 5,000 troops.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has insisted that all 2,800 Canadian
troops will leave South Asia by the end of next year when Parliament
decided two years ago that all Canadians should wrap up their combat
mission in Kandahar.
However, some members of a parliamentary delegation that visited
Kandahar and Kabul last week said that they were open to discussing
the possibility of several hundred Canadian troops participate in a
new, much less risky training mission that, if approved by
Parliament, would begin next year. The MPs promised an open debate
of the issue before next winter.
Mr. Harper expressed “interest” in what the parliamentarians had to
say, when asked about their visit on Friday while on a visit to
France. However, for the moment Canada’s official policy remains
that the troops will come home next year.
Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean offered her condolences to Sgt.
Goudreault’s family, speaking of the dangers that Canada’s Armed
Forces face in Afghanistan.
“We admire them all the more as their sense of duty compels them to
answer their country’s call with valour, determination and
incredible generosity,” she said in a statement.
“Sgt. Goudreault has given his all, sacrificing everything to this
demanding and dangerous mission, convinced, along with the comrades
he left behind, that he could help build a better future for a
people who rightly aspire to freedom and security.”
Defence Minister Peter MacKay echoed Ms. Jean’s words in his own
statement, saying Sgt. Goudreault “served to help build a safe and
stable future for Afghans, and he did so with honour and pride.”
He went on to say that Sgt. Goudreault’s sacrifice would not be
forgotten, nor would it deter Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan.