Support Canada’s Troops

I saw this gigantic “Support Our Troops” poster hanging from a building in downtown Montreal over the weekend:

It’s interesting to see given Canada’s image as less martial than the United States, a reputation presumably earned by their sheltering of our Vietnam draft dodgers. It’s useful to recall that, Mark Steyn notwithstanding, America isn’t alone in sending troops into harm’s way. Indeed, Canadian forces are in Afghanistan taking disproportionately heavy casualties.

Yes, even French Canadians.

We visited La Citadelle in Quebec City, the ceremonial home of the Royal 22e Régiment, whose second battalion has done two tours in Kandahar and sustained at least ten combat deaths.

UPDATE: A commenter and a correspondent, both with Canadian Forces ties, note that the soldier pictured is not in the CADPAT uniform that Canadian troops have worn for the better part of the decade. Indeed, these appear to be the old NATO-standard woodland camouflage pattern BDUs.

I have seen some young soldiers in cammo patterns that aren’t CADPAT since arriving.  Perhaps, though, they are some sort of cadets.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    I’ve heard that the Canadian forces over there are a take charge bunch and don’t shy away from a fight.

  2. sam says:

    Mark Steyn notwithstanding, America isn’t alone in sending troops into harm’s way

    Here’s a list of numbers of coalition deaths in Afghanistan to date.

    USA: 491
    UK: 113
    Canada: 88
    Germany: 25
    Spain: 23
    Denmark: 17
    Netherlands: 16
    France: 12
    Italy: 12
    Romania: 7
    Australia: 6
    Poland: 5
    Czech Republic: 3
    Estonia: 3
    Norway: 3
    Hungary: 2
    Portugal: 2
    Sweden: 2
    Finland: 1
    Lithuania: 1
    South Korea: 1

    TOTAL: 831

    The US, of course, leads. I haven’t run the numbers, but I suspect that the combined population of the rest of the coalition doesn’t exceed that of the US (300 million) by all that much. The Netherlands, for instance, has a population of around 16 million; The UK, 60 million; South Korea, 49 million; France, 61 million; Canada, 33 million; Norway, 5 million; Estonia, 1.5 million.

    We’re not alone over there.

  3. flashman says:

    Nice sentiment, but that’s an American soldier on the banner…

  4. sam says:

    Nice sentiment, but that’s an American soldier on the banner…

    I’m curious Flashy, how do you know that?

    (Love your nom de blog…great books, wot?)

  5. Jim says:

    While Canada may have stayed out of Iraq, it was much harder for Canada to make an argument for staying out of Afghanistan. The United States was attacked, Afghanistan was in the middle of a civil war and was giving shelter to those who attacked our closest ally – count us in!

    I served there, as a Sgt-Major in the Canadian Forces, in 2003-04. Many Americans / Brits / Canadians /Aussies / Kiwis would be surprised to know how closely, and well, our countries still work together in the field. The Marine MEU now in Kandahar noted that when one of their first patrols got hit, it was soldiers from a nearby Canadian FOB that came running in to assist, secure the site, and evacuate the wounded. Boston was as close to my hometown as Montreal. Alway raised the problem of who to cheer for; Les Canadiens ou/or The Bruins.

    Many, perhaps even a majority, of Canadians hold a marked difference between those Americans who evaded the ‘draft’ in Vietnam, and those who might now come to Canada evading their ‘voluntary’ service in the Armed Forces of their country. Big difference there – for most Canadians anyway.

    Hope you liked Quebec City, I’ve always thought it one of North Americas jewels.

  6. Jim says:

    “…..Nice sentiment, but that’s an American soldier on the banner…

    I’m curious Flashy, how do you know that?….”

    The Canadian combat uniform is much different than the ‘old’ American BDUs (seen in that picture). The new Canadian combat uniforms look a bit like the new U.S. disruptive pattern uniforms – although we take a little pride in the fact we fielded them first. Although that fact is tempered by the fact that we only had issue them in the tens of thousands, vice the hundreds of thousands that the U.S. military did 😉

    Really surprised that who ever made the banner made that mistake. Ah well, it is the sentiment that counts!

  7. Wayne says:

    Only problem is some NATO troops aren’t fighting. Germany for example has a poor track record. My understanding in at least the Germany case is the policies of their government and not the will of their troops that is causing this problem. I respect those who have died but the idea is not to die but to kill for your country or support those who do.

  8. sam says:

    The Canadian combat uniform is much different than the ‘old’ American BDUs (seen in that picture).

    Ah.

    I thank you for your service, Sgt-Major.

  9. Triumph says:

    a reputation presumably earned by their sheltering of our Vietnam draft dodgers

    Dude, it goes way back to the Revolutionary War when the cowardly Canadians refused to join us in kicking the tyrannical Brits out of North America.

    The Battle of Valcour Island notwithstanding, the Canadians still have little stomach for a fight–which is why we consistently have to protect them from their idiotic foreign policy decisions.

  10. od says:

    Memory tends to be selective anyway. The Canadians were in WW1 and WW2 long before the Americans. You could argue in the case of WW1 it was because they were still part of the British Empire, but by WW2 they were independent. Curiously enough, back then Canadians were thinking Americans had little stomach for a fight …

    The main point about Canada going into wars is that they’re seen as self-defense – Vietnam wasn’t seen as self-defense for an ally, so no official participation. Same for the recent Iraq war. Afghanistan seemed like a direct attack on the US, so Canada was quick to enter. One big current difference between Canadian and American attitudes is that its very common in Canada for someone to be for fighting in Afghanistan and against fighting in Iraq (most Canadians think that if anything the Saudi’s were behind the attack on the Twin Towers rather than Saddam), whereas in America most people tend to be either for or against both.

  11. Izzy Peters says:

    Either the photo is doctored or somebody screwed up (unless the guy was on exchange with the USA). Canadians went stright from wearing the old plain dark green combats to the CADPAT. Showing a guy in the US BDU is either funny or ironic, depending upon one’s point of view.

    Triumph should try reading some history. The White House is painted white because the President of the United States ran away and his army couldn’t figure out how to construct a defensive position against Admiral Cockburn’s mixed force of British regulars and CANADIAN volunteers.

  12. Izzy Peters says:

    PS: The dude is wearing a YELLOW ribbon; Canadian ribbons are RED. Either this is more irony or somebody in the Propaganda Dept. needs to go back to basic training.

  13. Wayne says:

    The British burned Washington D.C. then what happen. Battle of Plattsburgh, return to status quo on the Northern border then the U.S. kick the sh*&T out the British in the Battle of New Orleans. After that the British and especially the Canadians have never been a threat to the U.S.

    Have the Canadians ever won a war on their own?

  14. sam says:

    Have the Canadians ever won a war on their own?

    Can we please stop this crap right now?

  15. Michael says:

    Only problem is some NATO troops aren’t fighting. Germany for example has a poor track record.

    It still seems strange to hear somebody say that Germany should send it’s armed forces into other countries.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Have the Canadians ever won a war on their own?

    Sounds like the same rocket scientist who was recently telling me what weenies the Swiss are. The glorification of stupidity by the right marches on…

  17. PD Shaw says:

    America had other enemies before the Muslims, you know. Who is America’s oldest enemy?

    The greatest enemy America has ever known!

  18. od says:

    Have the Canadians ever won a war on their own?

    Curiously enough, since Canada became a nation in 1867 very few western countries have won a major war on their own … its all been coalitions of one sort or another unless you’re talking about western nations invading third world countries.

  19. Wayne says:

    anjin-san
    How typical of you. If you don’t like or want to answer a questions, you just start calling names.

    Izzy started with the history BS. I have a couple of British friends that like making statements like that at the bar. They like bullying those who don’t know much about history. I know enough to push back and I’m have no problem sticking up for the Unites States.

  20. Wayne says:

    Coalitions can mean many things. I will simplify it to winning a war with no other major military force argumentation or easier yet a war that the country would have almost certainly have won without military help by others.

  21. sam says:

    Ya know, some of you kids might not remember this, but when the Iranian crazies took over our embassy in Teheran, it was the Canadian ambassador who sheltered six of our diplomats and made it possible for them to escape Iran using Canadian passports. So can we just please STF with this silly nonsense. I mean, this is really the stupidest thread I’ve seen here.

  22. Michael says:

    Coalitions can mean many things. I will simplify it to winning a war with no other major military force argumentation or easier yet a war that the country would have almost certainly have won without military help by others.

    Why does it matter? Is it somehow more macho to have won a war on your own? How many wars has the United States won, on it’s own, against a equal or greater force than it’s own?

  23. anjin-san says:

    Wayne –

    How typical of you. Jingoistic crap glorifying war and demeaning a country that has been a good neighbor and ally.

    BTW, have you ever kicked the sh*&T out of anyone in combat? Or are you just another armchair warrior?

    Also, I am still waiting for you to school me about web design 🙂

  24. Jim says:

    I can tell you one thing. The Canadian, U.S., and British soldiers (along with Dutch and Australians) who are launching offensive operations together in Kandahar province could give a rats a** about who fought whom in the War of 1812. They only care that the greatest alliance the world has ever seen (formed during WWII) is still alive and well right now in Afghanistan. If you really care about U.S. troops then you’ll engage in less of the “U.S.A is #1” rhetoric, as much as you might like the image of the U.S. facing the world alone, there are tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who would like to see more of an allied presence, not less, in Afghanistan. And yes, they would like to see those allies in a fighting role – as Canada is.

    ABCA exercise in Kingston Ontario in 2002, an American, British, Canadian, Australian (and NZ) parade, hundreds of troops, is being dismissed by the Canadian Colonel. His choice of words of command “… soldiers of the Commonwealth, and you BLOODY rebels …. DISMISSED!” Everyone, especially the Americans, loved it. U.S. loves having a rebel ‘go it alone’ image, but the year is now 2008, not 1812. Lest anyone who pile on the Aussies for not doing enough in Afghanistan, remember that they had troops deployed for a fairly significant time in Vietnam.

  25. od says:

    Coalitions can mean many things. I will simplify it to winning a war with no other major military force argumentation or easier yet a war that the country would have almost certainly have won without military help by others.

    Lots of countries have lost wars they were sure they were going to win. “Almost certainly” is pretty meaningless, unless you’re talking about invading Panama. Generally countries look for allies because they need them, either militarily or politically – its really not done just because they think having allies would be fun.

  26. sam says:

    Jim, for my own part, I apoligize for the shocking lack of respect my countrymen — on both sides on this dumbass argument — have shown you and your country in view of your service to our joint cause in Afghanistan. I am truly embarassed by it.

  27. Wayne says:

    I respect the much of what many of our allies have done in the past. I have enjoyed working beside Canadians, British, Australian troops in the past. The Canadians have a unique attitude toward field living conditions but they can do that since they are a much smaller force. Overall they have better trained forced than U.S. but they are nowhere the size or have anywhere near the capacity to conduct war compare to the U.S.

    Izzy was the one that took the first swipe at the U.S. I have experience these swipes many times in the past. I don’t believe just because we are top dogs at the moment that we do not have the right to defend the U.S.

    Michael
    The military success of a country isn’t ultimately gage by the relative sizes of opposing militaries. That said first two to fit that requirement is Mexican—American War and the Spanish-American war. Then there are many examples where the U.S. was the major component and lead war. Then there are wars like the first GULF war where we had allies fighting besides us but by any reasonable person would acknowledge we could have won it alone. The French Navy help us some in the Revolutionary War but many thought that the ultimate results was already predetermine.

    Again I would like to express my appreciation for any that have helped the U.S. in the past but that doesn’t give any of them a right to go unchallenged in attacking the U.S.
    Anjin
    “I am still waiting for you to school me about web design”
    As I recalled you lost that thread discussion.

    “have you ever kicked the sh*&T out of anyone in combat”
    Yes and I have served my country in many ways outside of combat.

    Od
    Yes it is smart to seek out and acquire allies but that doesn’t mean that a country hasn’t or couldn’t have done something on their own. One can’t reasonably be absolutely sure about anything but the probabilities of what would have made a difference are sometimes very obvious.

  28. Wayne says:

    Sam
    I believe your intention was honorable. However if you really wanted to head off this discussion , you shouldn’t have single out just the one defending his country. Pointing out the attack from both side and then throwing in a compliment to both sides tends to be more effective.

    However if I am mistaken and you are one of those whose only concern is about not offending anyone who is against the U.S but have no problem with someone attacking the U.S. then disregard my first paragraph.

  29. Michael says:

    That said first two to fit that requirement is Mexican—American War and the Spanish-American war.

    Neither of which would I consider equal to the United States military at that time, not would I consider the US alone in the Spanish-American war.

  30. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Wayne, PLEASE stop acting like a moron.

    And “od”: It just ain’t true that “One big current difference between Canadian and American attitudes is that it’s very common in Canada for someone to be for fighting in Afghanistan and against fighting in Iraq, whereas in America most people tend to be either for or against both.” There are very few Americans who have EVER been against the Afghan War — there was exactly one vote in Congress against it, and one of the main arguments used by US opponents of the Iraq War is precisely that it’s been a disastrous distraction from what Time magazine called (on its cover this week) “The Right War”.

  31. Wayne says:

    Like I have said before, the term coalition isn’t very precise. Conflicts have many players on and off the scenes. There is a distinction with being one the main players than one for lack of a better phrase “that is along for the ride”. Maybe you have some hard numbers for these wars but they weren’t city states. Zachery Taylor defeated many larger forces in the war. As I already stated I have a great deal of respect for the Canadians forces. However if those like Izzy want to do comparisons the Canadians have not had anywhere near the leadership and projection of power as the U.S. has.

  32. Bruce Moomaw says:

    As for Mark Steyn: Judging from his recent literally insane book, I suspect his REAL objection to Canadians is that they won’t be eager enough to help march into Europe and “cull” (to use his word) the supposedly overwhelming Moslem population there. (“Liquidate” apparently had too many Communist connotations for him.)

  33. Wayne says:

    Bruce
    If you want to start calling names fine. I will not apologize for defending my country. You sound like one of those who would let anyone run the U.S. down anytime, anyplace. Not a one of you have said jack about Izzy’s comments. I have compliment our allies many times in the past. Has Izzy? If the idea was to stop this discussion, then stop with the smart ass retorts.

    By the way the Iraq resolution was passed by a great margin by Congress as well.