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Canadian troops at work

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The Canadian Press' Colin Perkel was along for the ride for an operation where Canadian troops invaded a village in the Panjwai district:

Canadian troops storm Afghan town

SALAVAT, Afghanistan June 25 (CP) - Canadian forces invaded the village of Salavat this past week in another effort at disrupting a key insurgent staging area...

The two-day operation saw the deployment of an entire battle group of Canadian infantry, combat engineers and tank crews - several hundred soldiers in all - along with close to 200 more Afghan army and police officers...

At first light Thursday, a large convoy of armoured vehicles and tanks moved from a nearby operating base toward a staging area just outside Salavat - an open field that within an hour had been transformed into a massive military encampment...

One company sealed the exits from the village. Hours later, the array of firepower and manpower had assembled in the staging area, and the invasion began with a tank firing two shells through the outer wall of the former school...

An interpreter yelled a final warning, and combat engineers blew open the blue metal gate...

Soldiers systematically smashed in the locked doors and searched every room, finding only a neat array of domestic items, including a baby crib, plastic flowers, sewing machines, laundry hanging to dry...

Under the rules of engagement, Canadian soldiers can only smash their way into compounds - a "hard knock" - if they have solid intelligence of Taliban activity. Otherwise, the protocol is to let Afghan soldiers or police do the actual searches - the "soft knock." ...

As has become increasingly common in this insurgent war, the Taliban did not show up to fight, melting away like ghosts...

While some villagers simply glared at the influx of soldiers, others chatted and joked with the Afghan troops as the always cautious Canadian soldiers mostly kept their distance... (link)

The astute reader will note the apparent disparity between the rules of engagement and the troops' actions. Since the troops entered what was apparently a Taliban-free household, they could not have been acting on "solid intelligence," and thus should have relied upon Afghan troops for the "soft knock."

The less-than-enthused response of locals seems to be the present reality for Canadian troops in a province where 66% polled say they want NATO troops out of their country. Recently, the press was reporting on civilians elsewhere in the Panjwai district who were happy to see the backs of Canadian troops who had brought violence to the villagers living near the base. It doesn't look like the people of Salavat are a whole lot different on that score.

We've also seen that little boys throwing rocks at patrols is common, as is a middle finger greeting for soldiers entering villages.

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