In the summer of 2006, a Canadian army patrol travelling through Afghanistan?s Panjwayi region?a densely packed maze of villages, fields and vineyards west of Kandahar?surprised an unexpectedly large force of Taliban fighters. The soldiers of the Princess Patricia?s Canadian Light Infantry had stumbled into a hornet?s nest, the largest buildup of Taliban forces in the region since their regime had fallen in 2001. The Canadians found themselves up against opponents who were suicidally brave, cunning at planting mines and roadside bombs, and experienced at disappearing into the scenery whenever they chose. As their commanders threw more and more soldiers into what became a gruelling, drawn-out struggle, the troops of the battalion`s Charlie Company found themselves at the forefront of every firefight and ambush in what became a desperate, two-month pitched battle. The 150 soldiers of Charlie Company suffered more casualties and earned more decorations for bravery than any other Canadian unit since the Korean War and came into contact with the enemy so many times they became known simply as "Contact Charlie."
In Contact Charlie, National Post reporter and embedded journalist Chris Wattie offers an intimate and harrowing look at the series of battles that would eventually take the lives of seven soldiers, including Captain Nichola Goddard, Canada`s first female combat casualty, and veteran soldier Sergeant Vaughn Ingram, who died trying to save one of his young troops. Based on Wattie?s own experience in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of post-tour interviews with the men and women on the ground, Contact Charlie is a rare piece of military writing, providing readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that made headlines that summer?and continue to do so today.
Praise for Contact Charlie:
?In the summer of 2006 the Taliban were poised to take back their Jerusalem, Kandahar City. They didn?t figure on 1 PPCLI. Chris Wattie?s outstanding effort lets us eavesdrop on the intense battles that saved the city, the country and NATO itself, and should make every Canadian proud of our country?s sacrifice in the name of freedom.? ?Lewis MacKenzie, Major-General (ret?d), Commanding Officer 1PPCLI, 1977?1979
?Way beyond the perceived access of embedded reporting, Contact Charlie brings the boots on the ground view in Afghanistan closer than anyone outside the Canadian Forces has ever seen it. Wattie?s account of the battle for the Panjwayi is reminiscent of war correspondence from such giants as Ross Munro, Matthew Halton or Bill Boss?as close to the sharp end as one can get." ?Ted Barris, journalist and author
"Many journalists try to write about military life but few possess the ability, eloquence and sheer grasp of the fleshy reality of war and soldiering that Wattie has in obvious abundance. This is reporting, military history and political analysis of the first order. Splendid and memorable?a book that should carve an honoured place in Canadian literature." ?Michael Coren, Sun Media columnist, television and radio host and best-selling author
?Contact Charlie fills in the blanks between Canada?s military objective in Afghanistan and the dizzying transformation on the ground. It is a thorough, lucid account of how one company?s tour of duty altered so many lives. Like a magnet, Charlie Company is drawn into a fight behind every wall and Chris Wattie captures it all in meticulous detail. Each time they suit up for a ?routine? patrol, there is a sense of dread for what looms. Contact Charlie will survive as a testament to the soldiers who never came back and the friends who will never forget them.? ?Lisa LaFlamme, National Affairs Correspondent, CTV News