The Duke of Wellington once thought of trying to write the history of a battle as being the equivalent of writing the history of a lavish ball – too much going on and nobody ever in a position to see all of it. There were a number of embedded reporters with the Canadian battle group based on the Princess Patricias in Kandahar in 2006 who reported on the furious fighting our troops were engaged in. However, it was Chris Wattie of the National Post who put all the elements of the campaign to write a coherent story about it and some of its critical encounters.
Contact Charlie (Key Porter, Toronto, 2008) concerns the Taliban plan to inflict heavy casualties on the Canadian army in Afghanistan while simultaneously generating a major political victory by temporarily occupying Kandahar; much like the Afghan Resistance did to the Soviets in 1982. C Company of the PPCLI was the stick inserted between their spokes. The men (and women) of this combat team engaged in the most intensive fighting experienced by any Canadian soldiers since the Korean War, and emerged victorious.
Wattie’s narrative is excellent, and a fitting tribute. The book is highly recommended – particularly for those who don’t understand much about the Canadian military, or for what it is doing in Afghanistan.