Queen’s instructor recalls deployment to Afghanistan

As a civilian in Canada, Hans Christian Breede teaches. As a soldier in Afghanistan, he became a student again.

“We were in awe at how (Afghans) live without all the creature comforts we here in Canada are so used to,” he said.

In Kingston, Breede works at Queen’s University as an assistant professor of political studies.

From September 2008 until the end of March 2009, Major Breede was deployed in Afghanistan serving with the Force Protection Company of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. There, at Camp Nathan Smith, Breede’s outfit offered support for the Afghan National Police. This mainly included transportation, minesweeping and diplomatic relations with the locals.

As close as he felt he became with Afghan people, he also felt great frustration when Canadian soldiers died.

“(We) felt anger when some (Afghans) were complicit in the deaths of our soldiers or their innocent countrymen,” he said.

Breede’s work included transporting partners of the military and managing security. The best way to sum up his experience, he said, would be to imagine The Hurt Locker, but three times a day. Breede said his location rarely experienced firefights, but was no less dangerous.

“It was an incredibly challenging (and) frustrating,” he said.

Breede said his soldiers served as enablers to a main effort, rather as front-line combatants. Still, he applauds the work any soldier does on deployment.

“It is not for us to call each other out or try to ‘one-up’ each other on who ‘supports the troops more.’ We all do what we think is appropriate,” he said.