Before Brigadier General Dave Corbould deploys to Afghanistan in the new year, he hopes to hit the slopes at what he calls the best ski hill in British Columbia, the Kimberley Alpine Resort.
Corbould’s parents live in Kimberley and he definitely wants to see them before he leaves for his second tour in Afghanistan, but he is also anxious to take up his new duty.
Brig. Gen. Corbould will be joining the US 101 Airborne Division at Divisional Headquarters, Regional Command East in Afghanistan as Deputy Commanding General.
His job will simply be to make sure that the 30,000 troops under his command have everything they need, from fuel to food, as well as working with the Afghan forces as they become more self-sufficient, and as the coalition transfers more infrastructure and responsibilities to them.
“My chain of command called up this summer and said there is an opportunity here to join the 101st Airborne Division,” he said. “These are the Screaming Eagles. And it’s an opportunity to go back and see all the development in Afghanistan.”
Brig. Gen. Corbould spoke to the Daily Bulletin from Gagetown where he is just relinquishing command of CFB Gagetown Combat Training Centre. From there he will move on to the 101st AB Division (Air Assault) in Fort Campbell, Kentucky before heading out to Afghanistan.
How does a Canadian general end up in charge of U.S. troops? Corbould says it is actually not that unusual.
“We’ve had a few Canadians going to U.S. divisions,” he said. “My brother went to Afghanistan with U.S. forces. We are very closely related to the U.S. military. It’s a way to spread expertise, share experiences, it’s good professional development.”
On Corbould’s previous Afghanistan tour, he was in command of the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and commanded the Canadian Battle Group as part of Task Force 1-08 . That was from February to September 2008. Upon changing command of 2 PPCLI in June 2009, he was promoted to Colonel and was assigned as the Canadian Forces Liaison Officer to NATO’s Joint Force Command Brunssum focused on issues involving Afghanistan and the ISAF mission. He was promoted to Brigadier General this past October.
He returns to the country very interested in what changes he will see.
“The situation has changed. In 2008, it was much more a combat operation. The enemy had a decent foothold, but over the last four years there has been a lot of transition to Afghan security forces. They are leading and the NATO coalition is taking on more of an advisory role.”
A good portion of Corbould’s work will involve helping both the civilian government and the security forces to develop, to help them take care of themselves.
And then there’s providing food, fuel, mobility and more for the entire 101st Division.
It is in many ways a less dangerous country than it was four years ago, Corbould says, but there are still many issues, such as roadside bombs.
“We have done a lot of work on how to counter that threat, so it is reduced. There are parts of the country that are safer than downtown Toronto, but others are dangerous. But we have knowledge of the threat.”
The deadline for NATO to transfer to the Afghan government is the end of 2014, though Corbould says how many forces will be will remain is still under negotiation.
Brig. Gen. Corbould says the timeline for his departure to Afghanistan is likely March. He will be there for a year.
Before that he hopes to visit his parents in Kimberley.
“I just talked to my folks this morning (Monday). They went skiing and said it was great.”