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Canadian loses feet to Afghan landmine

Overnight patrol helps clear area of insurgents

Doug Schmidt, Calgary Herald, 12 Jan 07

Article Link


The land-mine blast Thursday that badly injured Master Cpl.

Jody Mitic from 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment put the

spotlight on a unique Canadian surveillance and patrol squadron that

is performing a pivotal task in the international military effort to

rid this strife-torn and impoverished area of armed insurgents.


Mitic, who is based in Petawawa, Ont., is one of the 88 men and

women of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and

Reconnaissance) squadron. A sniper, Mitic stepped on an improvised

explosive device (IED) while on an overnight patrol, and suffered

serious but not life-threatening injuries to his legs.


Three of the squadron's members have been killed and six others

wounded since September.


Mitic's father, Hemi Mitic, said he spoke lovingly with his wounded

son Thursday morning. "It was after he had an operation -- they've

amputated his feet," Hemi Mitic said in an interview from Toronto.


"It's good news to the extent that he's alive, but he's got a tough

time ahead without any feet."


Despite the IED incident, a military source said the day's mission

proceeded without a hitch and another piece of Taliban territory was

reclaimed to allow for the start of desperately needed

reconstruction work.


"Counterinsurgency operations are vital, and that's what this war

is -- counterinsurgency," says 40-year-old Maj. Andrew Lucien, the

officer in command of ISTAR.


The Ghundey Ghar sniper patrol had left its post shortly after

midnight and was travelling on foot in support of a similarly

dismounted platoon patrol deployed to ensure there would be no

ambushes or other surprises when the Afghan military and police

entered the until then unsecured village of Siah Choy. Always

sleeping with his head next to the radio inside his command LAV III

near the top of Ghundey Ghar, Lucien said he was awakened by the

first report of the blast at around 4:30 a.m. The initial

investigation points to an anti-personnel mine attached to a mortar

round buried deep in the ground.


Members of the entire battle group became involved in removing the

injured soldier, including a team of engineers who quickly pushed a

new road through to the scene. "They got there in record time -- for

nighttime activity, it was outstanding soldier movement, absolutely

fantastic," says Lucien.


Doing nighttime reconnaissance is stressful, mentally challenging

work, says Lucien, a self-described "army brat" whose wife and three

sons live at CFB Petawawa.


"You're travelling at night, searching for the enemy and walking

into the unknown," he says.


Following a hilltop planning session with his officers Thursday,

round-the-clock patrols began and will continue for days, until the

military is convinced the Taliban are gone. Then, the Canadians will

withdraw from regular patrols there and leave the task to units of

the Afghan national army and police, with units from Canada's

Provincial Reconstruction Team making their initial forays to start

short-term development and reconstruction projects.


Soldier loses feet, faces 'tough time ahead'

Father grieves after mine injures son in Afghanistan

Bruce Ward, Ottawa Citizen, 12 Jan 07

Article Link


It was an agonizing conversation for both father and son. But

Hemi Mitic spoke lovingly to his wounded son, Master Cpl. Jody

Mitic, late yesterday morning when a call was patched through to an

airfield hospital in Kandahar.


"It was after he had an operation. They've amputated his feet," Mr.

Mitic said in an interview from Toronto. "It's good news to the

extent that he's alive, but he's got a tough time ahead without any



Master Cpl. Mitic, 30, who is based in Petawawa as part of the 1st

Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, had stepped on a landmine while

on a pre-dawn foot patrol yesterday.


He was part of a routine patrol in the western Panjwaii district of

Kandahar province, where the last major engagement was fought with

militants during the Canadian-led Operation Medusa last September,

said army spokeswoman Lieut. Sue Stefko.


"Jody is a sniper," said Mr. Mitic, who works in Toronto as

assistant to Canadian Auto Workers national president Buzz Hargrove.


"He is not married. This is his second tour, and he was scheduled

to come out of there in three to four weeks. He's been in the

service for over 10 years."


Three years ago, Mr. Hargrove spoke of Master Cpl. Metic's

contribution to Canada in a speech he gave looking back over the

year's events.


"We continue to see death and destruction in Afghanistan," Mr.

Hargrove told the CAW Council. "Recently, two young soldiers were

blown up when their vehicle hit a landmine.


"This was brought home to me recently when my assistant, Hemi

Mitic, and I were driving to Guelph, where I was to give a speech.

Hemi received a call from his son Jody, who is one of the

peacekeepers in Afghanistan. Jody was talking, over satellite, about

some of the events in that country. We have over 2,000 young

Canadians who are trying to make a difference in Afghanistan. When

you talk to someone who is so close and whom you have known since he

was a child, it tends to make the world smaller and the struggle for

peace throughout the world even more important for all of us."


His son grew up in Kitchener, said Mr. Mitic, which is also his

home town.


The patrol was being conducted as part of a new offensive,

Operation Falcon Summit, which has been targeting the Taliban

leadership and bomb-making facilities in the district since



"Jody is in the process of being airlifted to Germany," said Mr.

Mitic. "Once he has been there a little while, I'm going to go over

there and see him."


Master Cpl. Mitic was reported in stable condition late yesterday

with wounds to the lower portion of his body, but the military

refused to discuss the extent of his injuries.


His injuries were described as serious but non-life-threatening.


He was evacuated by helicopter to hospital at Kandahar airfield,

the main coalition base in southern Afghanistan, but military

doctors decided late yesterday to transfer him to the U.S. military

hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

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