Language selection


Purpose of the Mission

Heroes Remember

Purpose of the Mission

Our mission was to go to Camp Rasulpur and train as many Afghan refugees as we could. And the facilities that we were given were just simply large marquee tents, like big circus tents and we would have groups of 75, 80 Afghans at a time and they would have their own leadership within there just like they do today. There would be one Afghan who was in charge of that group. And he was what we would call equivalent of a company commander or a squadron commander in the Canadian Army. So, some of them were only young men. There was one guy that was about 16 or 17 and he was the leader. And there were men in there that were in their forties who when this young fellow said whatever he said, they did it, without question, no hesitation, but they were there more for rest and relaxation and to get fifty US dollars. Fifty bucks to these guys at the time was just about, you know, the typical income for a year for an Afghan man. They were getting that in ten days so yeah, they lined up in droves to take that training. One example that I can give you, why I say we really didn’t teach them anything. We had a series of training mines, every possible mine infused with those mines that was expected and known to be found in, you know, in Afghanistan. One mine we did not have a fuse for. We had a training mine, but we didn’t have the fuse. And we had a large picture of it on a sheet of bristol board, you know, professionally done. It wasn’t, you know, crayon type drawings. It was a professional piece. But when we explained we didn’t have the fuse, this little guy jumps up and said something and I don’t know if it was Urdu, Farsi, Pashto, because often we would have three or four languages in the tent which caused some grief on its own because that meant three or four interpreters. So what we would teach to a Canadian soldier in 45 minutes would take like four hours to teach the same thing because we would have to go from our English to Farsi to Pashto to Urdu or whatever so they all got it and back again. So it was a little monotonous and boring. Challenging too on that aspect so you didn’t lose your own train of thought, because when there’s that many languages coming at you, you can’t differentiate one from the other. But this little guy stood up and said whatever he said. Some other kid probably fifteen years old at the back jumped up, said something and out he went. But the little guy was sent back to Afghanistan to get one of those fuses so that we could see it. So that meant on foot through the mountains, through the Khyber Pass, find the mine in a minefield, get the mine out, get the fuse out of the mine and come all the way back and he was back in three days. And he did this in a pair of flip flops and I doubt that boy had any more than water, maybe a bit of fruit and he came back with that fuse to show us what it looked like. So I don’t think we really taught them a whole bunch, you know. We may have saved some lives by teaching them how to identify mine fields before you actually hit them or get caught in the middle of them, but other than that I think their methods were pretty crude before that about finding minefields.

Mr. Deveau explains the role of the Canadian military in training the Afghan refugees.

Jerry Deveau

Mr. Jerry Deveau was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia on November 20, 1950. Looking for excitement, Mr. Deveau believed he was up for a reasonable challenge in life and decided to join the Canadian Forces. Mr. Deveau joined the Army and after going through a personnel selection unit held occupation of Combat Engineer. In 1990, Mr. Deveau participated in his first operational tour to Pakistan and in 1994 accepted another tour to Rwanda as Chief Warrant Officer. At the end of his military career, Mr. Deveau held rank of Major. Mr. Deveau became employed as a Peer Support Coordinator with the OSISS (Occupational Stress Injury Social Support) program, a federal government network that provides support for military personnel returning to civilian life. Mr. Deveau resides in Fredericton, New Brunswick with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Jerry Deveau
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Contingent Commander
Combat Engineer

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: