The Changing Role of Dragoons in Afghanistan
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On 4 Jun 12 several contingents from KMTC climbed the Ghar to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; of the approximately 15 Canadians on the summit, 10 were Dragoons.  From Left to Right: Tpr Folkes, Capt Wernham, MCpl Furness, Cpl Morin, Cpl Worth, Tpr Penner, Capt MacRae, Tpr Burke, and Tpr Szydlo.
On the summit of the Gharib Ghar during the morning hours of 15 Jun 12.  From Left to Right: Capt Peitzsche, Maj Auld, Tpr Penner, MGen Ferron, Capt MacRae, Capt Wernham, Cpl Worth, and Tpr Szydlo.
Following many years of dedication and sacrifice from the Canadian Forces, with very significant contributions from the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Task Force 2-12 of Op ATTENTION deployed to Afghanistan in March 2012.  Op ATTENTION is one element of the Canadian Contribution to Training Mission - Afghanistan (CCTM-A), which is, in turn, part of the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A).  The vast majority of the members of Op ATTENTION are concentrated within Kabul, with smaller elements based in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.  While the focus of Op ATTENTION is on providing advisor support to the training of the Afghan National Army (ANA), there are plenty of opportunities to step back from that role and take the time to get a different perspective on Afghanistan.  On 15 June 2012, a large and varied group of NTM-A advisors from the Kabul Base Cluster took part in a climb of the Gharib Ghar, a prominent mountain in the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) training area.  Notably, the climb was led by MGen Jim Ferron, CCTM-A Commander, and included the Dragoons on his staff and those who are deployed to Camp ALAMO.  MGen Ferron’s staff included Maj Fraser Auld and Capt Tyler Peitzsche, and the Alamo contingent included Capt Don MacRae, Capt John Wernham, MCpl Paul Dudka, Cpl Amanda Morin, Cpl Matthew Worth, Tpr Jamie Burke, Tpr Ryan Folkes, Tpr Jake Penner, and Tpr Derek Szydlo.  For the Alamo Dragoons, this was their second climb of the Ghar; as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, the Alamo Dragoons joined the British on their climb on 4 June 2012.

Cpl Morin and Tpr Folkes were tasked with route security, so while they did not have the opportunity to do the entire climb, Tpr Folkes took advantage of his position on the hill to mark the halfway point with the Newfoundland & Labrador provincial flag, which provided the personnel from other nations a good conversation piece.  One of the most interesting elements of Op ATTENTION is the wide variety of units contributing to the mission.  Of the approximately 950 CF personnel deployed on Op ATTENTION, there are currently 28 Dragoons, spread across seven camps in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.  To further break it down, the ten Dragoons on Camp Alamo are employed within six different Training Advisory Teams (TATs).  Thus, the chance to come together as Dragoons is a very welcome one.  After just under an hour of climbing, the climb concluded with photos at the summit of the Gharib Ghar to record the memorable occasion.

Many Dragoons would be amazed at the differences between Op ATTENTION and Ops APOLLO, ARCHER, and ATHENA.  An event like climbing the Gharib Ghar is just one example of the new opportunities available in Afghanistan, and would not be possible without the effort given by those who came before.
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