Damien Timms - Rules of Engagement

Running time
3 min 11 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


So you had several cards. I think it was a light blue card just like the United Nations one, and they I may have some of my different deployments mixed up, but I definitely know there was a light blue card and I thought another one was pink for this. Then other operations has orange, silver, et cetera. But this one, yeah, the colors I just remember very more pastels than anything else. I think it was a pink and a light blue colour. And I'll make a point later about how far we've come from this point. Yeah, our equipment was quite below par.

Australia had sort of bled itself away from post-Vietnam and just like a lot of the equipment had sort of become antiquated and there was just a trickle of stuff. So what we went over there with, to compare with later what we have now is so different. What we learned was, we shouldn't go under some of the rules that we have through the UN where they basically said you can only defend yourself. We had two magazines of ammunition.

Because some people asked the question, "How come you didn't protect all the people that were getting murdered?" It was 10000 RPA, and it was three sections of us. So sometimes it's better to be in the peripheral as the observer than be one of the people getting counted. Because we had also checked our own history, 28 Belgium paratroopers had been murdered right in front of the Canadian UN person, Romeo Dallaire, months beforehand. So we knew what these people were capable of and the blood lust that they get. And sometimes it's like, hey, we just need to be like a porcupine, protect each other, and if we can protect some of the people that we can, because you can't save everyone.

Those rules had really sort of hamstrung us. Our equipment and just the way it was. I think holistically in the big picture, if you look at what happened with Somalia, in particular the Black Hawk Down incident, America didn't want to get involved in anything like Rwanda and that. And not many people had a real flavour to sort of do anything. They probably thought this was going to be just a Cambodia that sort of happened or Sinai and all these other sort of UN missions. However, this one went horribly wrong for the world so to speak. We just happened to be in the middle of it.

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