"I don't think we had any idea of the scale and scope
of what the impact would be. I truly do not."
Those few words by safely retired general Rick Hillier, the "Big Cod", are an apt summary of Canada's war in Afghanistan and the generals who engineered it. Why, they could even inscribe those very words on Hillier's headstone.
The remark was made by our former chief of staff in connection with the recent spike in soldier suicides. The interviewer seems not to have followed up with the obvious question, "Why not? Why did you have no idea of the impact of this war on Canada's combat troops?"
This was hardly the first time soldiers have been sent into distant lands to struggle, year after year, against an enemy they often could not find and could not hope to defeat. The French experienced that in Algeria. The Americans wrote the book on it in Vietnam.
The U.S. lost over 50-thousand soldiers in Vietnam. It lost even more veterans to suicide in the aftermath. How did Hillier and his subordinates not know? Why did they have, as he claims, no idea of these impacts? It was their duty to know.
In this interview Hillier also, belatedly, criticized the Harper government's Veterans Charter.
He said the system now does not provide ill and injured veterans with the support they will need throughout their lives. And it does not go far enough to make sure they are properly taken care of for their entire life.
"That is the key point we need to change in that Veterans Charter, to make sure we look after those veterans who've paid an incredible price — a brutal price for us, for our nation — right through 'til when they're 95 years old, and this charter doesn't do it."
Again, why now? Why so late? Where was Hillier when this miserable pact was being engineered and thrown over our wounded troops as the government was shunting them out of sight?
I don't believe a word this guy says and I haven't for years, not since he glibly told reporters that we were sending a miniscule combat force to Kandahar province to kill "a few dozen... scumbags."