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Now in a Combat Role

Heroes Remember

Now in a Combat Role

Well after Africa we had to change our whole doctrine on, when September 11th happened what we were going to do because we were so focused on these other missions with Bosnia and Africa that now we are going into a combat role. So we needed new gear. We didn’t have the proper equipment. We didn’t have all the stuff that we needed to go and do this mission but it came really quick and, you know, we had what we needed so in ’04 when I was first there we were driving around in the old Iltis jeeps, you know, no tops on them through cities and stuff. Soft skin vehicles is what we call them. So we were doing that. The attacks weren’t as frequent so at that point in 2004 we weren’t there in a combat role but we were there as part of the mission. So again we went back to doing what we do. We went out and we destroyed unexploded ordinances. We were doing checkpoints. We were looking for insurgency. So our tempo was a lot different than being on the peacekeeping mission in Africa. It was more strict in terms of, okay this is your daily routine, you’re doing this, this and this all day and come back and get ready and go do it again. So fast forward when I go back in ’07 we weren’t driving in soft skin vehicles through the city. Everything was up-armoured. We were in a combat role so it was a combat mission and we knew that okay we were actually going to go and face the bad guys, the insurgency, the Taliban, whoever was there. And we were down south too so I went from being in Kabul to going south to Kandahar city and being part of the biggest force that we’ve been, that I’ve seen in my career at the time. All these nations come together and, you know, we are all on the same page so we had the same playbook and we went out and we brought it to them. We brought it to the bad guys. They were so used to conflict but I think in their eyes anything was better than what they had at the time so some villages were more receptive to us going through and being there than others and you could see that in their eyes, in the faces, in the expressions, you know, it would tell you a million things about a person by doing that. Some places were good. You know the children, kids are kids but we didn’t know. One day they were throwing rocks at us. Another day they would be throwing grenades at us. You don’t know. You are just driving down the road and you see them kids come up and they are laughing and giggling because they think it’s funny but someone has been paying them to go and do this so that was difficult having to find that balance on who we could trust. And then not knowing who we were fighting. We wouldn’t know, we didn’t know, you could put a name on a person but there was no uniform to identify them as being that person. So that was a challenge for us. And the elders, they wanted better things for their villages, you know, they wanted the water, they wanted more food and we tried to provide that to them so they were helping us in that aspect but then you have this organization coming in behind us when we leave and feeding them lies and telling them no this is not the way and if you don’t do this then we are going to come back and we are going to hurt your family. So then they are caught, if we do this then this is going to happen and if we do that then this will happen so it was hard. It was hit and miss a lot of the time that I was there. And that’s only my experience. You’re a soldier first. We branched off and we were with an infantry company and our role was to find the improvised explosive devices and then call for our specialized teams to come out and destroy these devices as well as we were there to keep the routes, the roads open so that our allies could travel safely down any route that they needed to go down without being compromised. Any given day we could find, I don’t know maybe four of five devices but then there are the ones that we don’t see. So we were always at the front of the spear and we were always, if someone… I know a lot of my infantry buddies don’t like this but when they are all facing a situation where most people want to withdraw well then we’re going forward because we got to make sure that these guys can get through to their objective without getting hurt beforehand I guess is the easiest way to say it. Explosive ordinance disposals is just that. The country is littered with bombs from past wars through that country so it’s just littered. It’s nothing to walk down through a village and see all this stuff so we would get rid of it or as much of that as we could.

Now deployed to Afghanistan, Mr. MacEachern speaks about the change in roles and responsibilities and need for better equipment to take on this duty of combat engineer in a new country

Brian MacEachern

Mr. Brian MacEachern was born August 2, 1975 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. With his father being a reserve soldier for over 30 years, Mr. MacEachern knew his own destiny at a very young age. Joining the reserves with the Combat Engineers division, he later specialized in combat diving and ordinance disposal. Throughout his military career Mr. MacEachern was part of the Swiss Air recovery mission and credits this exercise as being his reasons for continuing to serve in the Canadian military. In 2004 Mr. MacEachern accepted a deployment to Ethiopia and later that year travelled to Afghanistan and again in 2007 holding rank of sergeant with Combat Engineers. After being released from the military, Mr. MacEachern accepted support through Soldier On and in 2016 became a member of Team Canada Invictus Games travelling to Orlando, Florida as part of the cycling team. Mr. MacEachern continues to stay involved in the sport and now resides in Nova Scotia with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
July 25, 2018
Person Interviewed:
Brian MacEachern
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Combat Engineer

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