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Afghanistan: Introducing ‘Task Force Kandahar’


 

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This is a treat, and an honour. At the end of my recent article about Afghanistan I speak with Warrant Officer Colin Clansey, one of only two bagpipers in the current Canadian rotation in Kandahar and, he believes, the first piper deployed in that role to a war zone by Canada since World War II. Clansey has played at perhaps 25 “ramp ceremonies” for the departing remains of Canadian, American, British and Australian soldiers. In November, he told me, he wrote a new piece. From the article:

Soldiers from every country come, if their operational duties permit, to attend the ramp ceremonies. When the three who died on Dec. 5 went home, 2,000 of their comrades were on hand. Clansey sometimes plays Amazing Grace or songs associated with specific regiments, but this time he played a new song he wrote in November, Task Force Kandahar. “It’s a funeral march, so it’s very sombre at the start,” he said. “But as it progresses, I tried to give it a more positive tone, so it has elements of hope and joy at the end. As if to express the hope that all this isn’t in vain.”

Of course I asked whether there is a recording of the piece. Clansey said there is one and gave me the name of the public-affairs officer who had it. It took until today to track that recording down, because the officer who had it was “outside the wire.” Here, then, in a bit of a world premiere, is Warrant Officer Clansey’s piece, Task Force Kandahar.

It was recorded outdoors with a little digital recorder normally used for reporters’ interviews, and the performance has one rough spot, but I think this captures the tune’s character well. Everybody over there, military and civilian, is working as hard as they can, whatever the task, with no certainty about the outcome. I felt proud to be able to spend some time with them. Merry Christmas.


 
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Afghanistan: Introducing ‘Task Force Kandahar’

  1. Many thanks, Paul. Merry Christmas.

  2. During Hitlers war: WW II there were fighting soldiers on both sides…. there were also Christmas Days on the Battle Field and both sides lost fellow comrades at arms and all these soldiers had family and friends and far to many died young. When the Winds of War strike they know no neither race, colour or creed…. all they know is death… During this Christmas I wish peace to all and my prayer and thoughts go out to the families of all the brave men, women and the innocent who find themselves in the line of fire. As a retired serviceman of over 30 years I am well aware of the call to duty and country. To-day as a vet my hope is that when politicians strike the fires of the Winds of War they do so with much thought and honest debate. God Bless our Brave Troops and may God give the families of the brave the strength to continue their support for those they love. Politicians come and they go….. and soldiers, soldier on.

    Merry Christmas Paul

  3. It’s a pity the LSOT couldn’t come up with something this moving for the Holidays. They had to put not one – but two – pictures of the Harper Family on their website, one of which – the big one – appears to have some sort of a celestial halo to it.

  4. I confess I don’t understand military service and I remain utterly opposed to this war, and many other instances where we have reached too quickly for military solutions to social and political conflict.

    I do, however, respect people who act sincerely on their beliefs, and I hope that the soldiers who serve with the Canadian Forces understand that while we may or may not agree on the policy for Afghanistan, we need not wish each other ill will. I also think we can share the feelings expressed by a mournful bagpipe solo even if we can’t exactly express what those feelings are. I sincerely wish that as lovely as it is it won’t be played many more times in Kandahar.

    • I’m vexed when people suggest that they support the military, but not the mission. It’s comparable to saying that one supports the firemen, but the feel the fire should not be extinguished. There is no appeasement in Afghanistan. Since I have two friends in Afghanistan, I know that they’re proud of Canada’s accomplishements there. It’s too bad that the media simply counts the dead without publicizing their progress and successs. Canada didn’t resort “…too quickly for military solutions…” Neither was the conflict simply social or political. The conflict was the training of terrorists to violently attack the Western Democracies.

      • It’s comparable to saying that one supports the firemen, but the feel the fire should not be extinguished

        No, it isn’t comparable. A better analogy would involve a disagreement on how best to fight the fire, if indeed there is a fire at all.

        I think your objection to people not supporting the mission is authoritarian and anti-democratic.

        For the record, I support a stable Afghanistan. But beyond that, it’s clear no one in charge knows what they’re doing anymore.

  5. Paul, I went to high school with Colin and thought that your description of him as a “compact, thoughtful” guy said a tonne with just two words and has resonated with me since I read the article. Thanks for this. Let’s hope everyone makes it home safe. Merry Christmas.

  6. That was a very nice Christmas present, thanks for sharing Paul.

    I am so very proud to be a Canadian when I think of what they are doing over there on our behalf. It must be very hard for them and their families. I hope that everybody will spare a though for them during the holiday season.

    • thought, that is

  7. Paul, did you take the photo? I don’t understand why people have to argue about supporting the troops, the mission, etc. at this time – they are there and we should appreciate their courage and think about their families.

    Well done Paul and Merry Christmas/Holiday Greetings to you and your family.

  8. Thanks, not for me but for those who read this blog from dustier places. Enjoy your Christmas with the family, even more for those who can’t

  9. There is nothing like the bagpipe to stir the spirit. The player pumps the air through his bag, his heart beating in rythm with his breath. His tune becomes disembodied in this way: an effort of the mind that his physical body cannot totally join. His music represents mind over body to express sentiment and that is why we follow it so closely with our hearts.

  10. Interesting tune, I hope to hear it in it’s entirety – either in person OR with a better digital recording of it, once the gremlins have been ironed out.

    Was watching the tube yesterday and they were interviewing one of our injured soldiers – who is attempting to rebuild his life. When asked what he tought about the Canadian presence – after 100 deaths – did he see progress ?
    His answer was simple & spoe miles….
    In 2002 we were digging wells for the people of Afghanistan
    Now – we are advising the government ……
    That’s progress

  11. Lovely article, however just a small note for future reference. Pipers refer to their music as “Tunes” and not “songs” Just a minor point but very important to a piper. Also I think Colin meant he was only the second PIPE MAJOR to see active service at this time, there is a distinction. Normally Piper Major’s do not do active service.
    It is nice to hear and see what is actually going on over there, we really need more publicity on a positive vein public only seem to hear the amount it costs and all the negative aspects of what our troops do. However, they forget that if there is a national disaster anywhere, who is called in to help with very little thanks??

  12. A solumn sad tune for a sad day,

    My Canada’s fallen never be forgotten.
    I wish all of our Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers a Happy New Year in 2009.
    Canada mourns our lost but we support those who go, have yet to go and have already gone.

    My Best and Most Sincere Warm Wishes,
    Jon H

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