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An Enjoyable Tour of Duty

Heroes Remember

An Enjoyable Tour of Duty

I was in Afghanistan twice and again I was in a unique position both times where as an intelligence operator again I got to experience many aspects of the mission and fortunate to see different phases of Canada’s progress there. I was in Afghanistan in 2003. I was lucky, fortunate to go with a small unit and our job was to, the team that I was with their job was to be basically close, personal protection to General Leslie who was Canada’s top military official in the country at the time but he was also deputy commander of ISAF, International Security Assistance Force, acting for NATO. There’s a German general who is in charge of the entire operation but General Leslie was his deputy and had an important role to play and I was part of CANSOF COM at this point, Canada’s Special Operation’s Command as an intelligence operator. I had been with the unit for several years at this point and so we deployed in the summer of ’03 and set up in Kabul so their job, the team that I worked with, their job was to protect General Leslie and I was the intelligence operator that accompanied the team and my job was to update them on intelligence information, threats, help with route planning, contribute to mission planning and whatever else was required for that mission and we were there just over four months and that was a great experience. The war had been on for almost two years at that point but there hadn’t been a lot of fighting in Kabul itself, I think that Kabul was spared majority of the fighting as the northern alliance forces were taking over the country from the Taliban. Kabul remained at that point secure from most of the fighting and Kabul was used by NATO and the United States and other allies as really a huge staging area for what was to be a massive intervention in the country and the British I believe had their boots on the ground and the Americans in Kabul first and once Canada decided to transition from their initial combat mission in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, they transitioned to Kabul where the Canadian contingent was setting up headquarters in Camp Julian, the southern part of the city. When we arrived, NATO was really just getting established in the city so it wasn’t exactly the wild west but it was shortly after the wild west had been set up so General Leslie’s job was to make sure that international partners, the United Nations aid groups, international organizations were sort of being meshed with ISAF and NATO so he was the coordination man so he was out and about all over the city and our guys ran pretty hard to keep up with him because he was a busy guy. So ours was a job of constant updates, trying to find out what the safe routes were, updating him on attacks that might have happened that day, IED’s that had gone off that day, going to briefings, this is my job to go to all the briefings and make sure we had some good threat intelligence on what was happening in the city. And it was an interesting time to be there because the Canadian Embassy was just being rebuilt. Camp Julian was nothing more than a gravel parking lot with two hundred people in it when I was there. They were sleeping in tents. So over the course of months I saw it grow from this very small rudimentary camp to this massive military camp that had been built over a series of months. That was interesting to see. It was a busy and exciting time to be part of something that would be a lot bigger and I was very fortunate enough to be sort of a fly on the wall to a lot of really interesting conversations and it was probably my best tour, I reallyenjoyed it.

Mr. Palmer speaks in detail about his tour to Afghanistan and the role he played within Intelligence headquarters.

Phil Palmer

Mr. Phil Palmer was born October 16, 1969 in Calgary, Alberta. Mr. Palmer’s desire for the military started at a very young age as he always knew someday he would join. After graduating from high school, Mr. Palmer immediately enlisted in the military. Mr. Palmer joined the infantry with the Royal Canadian Regiment, was a member of the Airborne Regiment as a Paratrooper 3 Commando and later transferred to the Intelligence Operations as an Intelligence Operator. Over the course of 26 years, Mr. Palmer deployed to areas of Somalia, Bosnia and two deployments to Afghanistan. Mr. Palmer discharged from the military and now resides in Ottawa with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
December 9, 2014
Person Interviewed:
Phil Palmer
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces

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