Afghanistan: Introducing 'Task Force Kandahar'


This is a treat, and an honour. At the end of my recent article about Afghanistan I speak with Warrant Officer Colin Clansey, one of only two bagpipers in the current Canadian rotation in Kandahar and, he believes, the first piper deployed in that role to a war zone by Canada since World War II. Clansey has played at perhaps 25 “ramp ceremonies” for the departing remains of Canadian, American, British and Australian soldiers. In November, he told me, he wrote a new piece. From the article:

Soldiers from every country come, if their operational duties permit, to attend the ramp ceremonies. When the three who died on Dec. 5 went home, 2,000 of their comrades were on hand. Clansey sometimes plays Amazing Grace or songs associated with specific regiments, but this time he played a new song he wrote in November, Task Force Kandahar. “It’s a funeral march, so it’s very sombre at the start,” he said. “But as it progresses, I tried to give it a more positive tone, so it has elements of hope and joy at the end. As if to express the hope that all this isn’t in vain.”

Of course I asked whether there is a recording of the piece. Clansey said there is one and gave me the name of the public-affairs officer who had it. It took until today to track that recording down, because the officer who had it was “outside the wire.” Here, then, in a bit of a world premiere, is Warrant Officer Clansey’s piece, Task Force Kandahar.

It was recorded outdoors with a little digital recorder normally used for reporters’ interviews, and the performance has one rough spot, but I think this captures the tune’s character well. Everybody over there, military and civilian, is working as hard as they can, whatever the task, with no certainty about the outcome. I felt proud to be able to spend some time with them. Merry Christmas.

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