Sgt Jason Boyes

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Sgt Jason Boyes

Post by Admin on Tue 18 Mar 2008, 5:38 pm

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan A newly arrived Canadian soldier was killed Sunday night while on foot patrol in the volatile Panjwai district southwest of Kandahar City.

He was identified Monday as Sergeant Jason Boyes, 32, of Lynn Lake, Man. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Man.

Sgt. Boyes died after triggering an explosion around the village of Zangabad, a dangerous area known for insurgent activity and littered with mines and improvised explosive devices. He was brought by helicopter to the hospital at Kandahar airfield, where he died of his wounds.

Sunday's fatality was the 81st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. One diplomat has also been killed.

Brigadier-General Guy Laroche, overall commander of the Canadian contingent, praised the slain soldier as "a brother and a fine soldier."

"He answered the call of duty," the general said this morning at the military base outside of Kandahar. "I would like to convey our most sincere sympathies to the family of our fallen comrade."

The soldier's name was initially withheld at the request his family, as were any identifying details, including home town, unit and age.

Securing the Panjwai district the scene of many battles between Canadians and insurgents over the past two years has been a bloody and repetitive task for the military.

The regiment known as the Vandoos spent part of its rotation here trying to extend its control further west into Panjwai and Zhari districts, recapturing villages overrun by Taliban earlier in the year. They established small outposts across the volatile districts, gaining ground as the winter cold discouraged the insurgents from fighting.

These operations came after other Canadian soldiers had, more than a year earlier, already cleared the area of insurgents. Hastily trained auxiliary local police were then assigned to posts throughout the area but many of these posts were subsequently overrun by insurgents, forcing Canadians again to reassert their authority in the area.

Brig-Gen Laroche said that Sunday's foot patrol in the Zangabad area was a joint operation with the Afghan National Army and was intended to serve three purposes: show a visible presence, monitor the security situation and interact with locals.

In spite of the obvious additional risks, deaths while on foot patrol are comparatively rare and it has been approximately 10 months since a similar incident occurred, according to the military. The majority of Canadians killed in Afghanistan have died while riding in their vehicles, victim of the roadside bombs that have struck convoys and patrols with grim regularity.

The latest came earlier this month. Trooper Michael Hayakaze, a 25-year-old with Lord Strathcona's Horse who was just days away from returning home, was the victim of a roadside bomb only two weeks ago.

Canada is particularly vulnerable to these bombs which Brig-Gen Laroche recently called the Taliban's "weapon of choice" because its forces do not have their own helicopters in Afghanistan.

But Ottawa and the United States are currently in the final stages of high-level talks that could finally provide Canadian troops with six Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for operations in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said this month.

Reliable access to helicopters was one of the conditions laid out in the Manley report on Afghanistan. In the wake of that report, the House of Commons voted last week to continue the mission for another two years, provided helicopters could be secured and another 1,000 troops found to assist in the Canadian area of operations.

Mr. MacKay said that the options include leasing the choppers from either the United States or another country or persuading the U.S. Army to allow the Canadians to move ahead of them on the Boeing production schedule.


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