Canada to stage mock Afghan attack in Washington

“This is like a story from the Onion but unfortunately it’s not. So, it makes this story very unfunny and insane.”

-F.F. 9/6/09

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Paul Koring

Washington From Friday’s Globe and Mail

The Taliban will attack an Afghan village set up in the heart of Washington courtesy of the Canadian Forces, who will send in a medic in a dramatic effort to save a civilian crippled by the explosion.

At least four times over two days this month, simulated IED blasts will bring the Afghan war – and Canada’s combat role in Kandahar – home to Americans if an elaborate scheme based on modern training realism attracts widespread attention, as is hoped.

“If this works the way I want it to, more Americans will know what Canada is doing in Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Martin, a military attaché at the Canadian embassy.

A clutch of top American generals, powerful Capitol Hill players and Afghan experts from both sides of the border are expected at the two-day conference hosted by the embassy.

But the highlight will be the explosive blasts, simulating the powerful improvised explosive devices wreaking havoc in Afghanistan, to be staged twice a day.

Whether they will send jumpy tourists and Washingtonians on Pennsylvania Avenue fleeing in fear remains unknown, but embassy officials say they have a green light from the Secret Service, the State Department and the D.C. fire marshal.

The mock village, complete with a small souk and peopled by nearly a dozen Afghan actors, will be created in the courtyard of the Canadian embassy, halfway between the Capitol and the White House. A handful of Canadian soldiers and, Col. Martin hopes, U.S. Marines will arrive to “see the village leader” just as the IED blows up, “critically injuring” at least one Afghan, who will get immediate first aid from a Canadian medic.

“It should provide the full flavour of hyper-realistic training,” said Col. Martin, adding: “Absolutely, you are going to hear it out on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The dramatic recreation of combat, using sophisticated simulations developed by American companies and used to train U.S. and Canadian troops before they are sent to Afghanistan, is intended to garner attention for the often overlooked Canadian combat effort.

“Unfortunately there are still a lot of Americans … who don’t know about how great the Canadian commitment is,” Col. Martin said.

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