Canadian Lt Attacked at Shura

I decided to break this off from a thread in the Mn Forum. A Canadian Lt was attacked today while involved in a shura. This might signal a change in taliban tactics which I think needs to be widely disiminated.

Afghan villagers won't say who axe-wielding attacker of Canadian was
19:14:46 EST Mar 4, 2006

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - The attack sounds like the work of a madman, an axe-wielding attempt at murder rather than an act of war.

Lieut. Trevor Greene was chatting with dozens of elders near his forward base in Gumbad when an Afghan villager pulled an axe with a 60-centimetre handle from inside his clothing.

The villager, in his 20s, held the axe high over Greene's head and yelled "Allah Akbar" - God is Great - the signature call of an Islamist suicide attacker.

The man fulfilled his destiny. He delivered his nearly lethal blow and then died where he stood, his body riddled with bullets from Capt. Kevin Schamuhn and two of his fellow soldiers.

Schamuhn, Greene's platoon commander, was sure Greene was dead.

"It was my initial assessment that Trevor was dead on impact because of the force with which the axe hit his head," Schamuhn recounted Saturday.

"Fortunately, that was not the case."

The notion the act was of a lone maniac quickly disappeared.

While villagers scattered in all directions, enemy small-arms fire broke out from across the river. Canadians and their Afghan allies returned fire. Then, as things calmed slightly, another man moved toward coalition forces and tossed a hand grenade.

The Afghans and Canadians returned fire again as the grenade exploded harmlessly. Schamuhn believes the man was hit but the grenade attacker scurried away in the mayhem.

As things calmed down, a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter whisked Greene away to a Canadian hospital at Kandahar Airfield. He remains there in serious condition, awaiting a plane ride to Germany and home.

The Afghans and Canadians went into the village to find answers. All they found were seven old men and some women and children.

"There were no fighting-age males there," said Schamuhn.

"The leaders we had been speaking to earlier had disappeared and all the young men that we were talking to had disappeared."

No villager would say who the dead attacker was.

The platoon from Company A of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry brigade in Afghanistan was making a series of stops in small villages Saturday from their forward operating base 70 kilometres north of Kandahar.

Moving into rural areas is a key part of Canada's plan to bring security and reconstruction to Kandahar province.

Villagers in a meeting hours earlier welcomed them with blankets and bread and meats.

The meetings with local leaders are known as shura and are key to getting anything done in rural areas.

The fateful meeting was off to a good start when the attacker struck, Schamuhn said.

The first hint of trouble could only be seen in the light of hindsight, he said.

"About two or three minutes prior to the incident, all the children that were present were escorted away, about 20 to 30 metres away," Schamuhn recalled.

"But none of us picked up on this, there was no weird feeling, no gut feeling that something was about to go down."

Schamuhn has grown to trust villagers through dozens of encounters. He and Greene had removed their helmets and set down their arms in a sign of respect and trust.

"I'm sure I've shaken hands with some people who have plotted against us," he said.

"You can't tell."

Schamuhn said he had started to believe the oft-repeated Afghan contention that foreigners are causing all the trouble. He doesn't believe it now.

"This guy, he was a local villager from this village who was coerced or persuaded by some outside force to do this against us," Schamuhn said.

"We were completely vulnerable to them and they took complete advantage of that. There was a lot of people who knew what was about to happen."

Schamuhn and his men were back Saturday night in their small camp near Gumbad. They stay in a mud-walled farmers compound, with razor wire providing an outside ring of security.

Schamuhn said his men are fine, although sleep would not come easy this night. They are warriors, he said.

"My guys are ready to fight again. They're ready to go back out and do their job."

"They are ready to go and protect and continue on this mission. They are not afraid."

© The Canadian Press, 2006
Evidently his condition is still critical but according to a relative he has responded to light and sound. Pretty amazing. He was promoted to Captain prior to his medical evacuation to Germany. Prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time.
There's a thread touching on this in the Multinational HQ:
I'll just repeat what I said there:

"... I find it depressing that a bunch of beardy fundies pining for the 14th century understand more about 21st century warfare and how to win it than we do."

This attack plays to the attackers strengths (individuals willing to die, indistinguishable from locals - many are the locals) and avoids our strengths (unbeatable in the direct kinetic fight). It attacks our strategy of trying to get the locals on board (who's going to trust them now ?) and is aimed at provoking overreaction from ourselves - always a good recruiting tool for our enemies. I suspect that the weak point for Canadian troops is public opinion back home - this attack would seem to indicate that our enemies understand this and have selected it as their schwerpunkt.

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