Controversy today swirls around Harjit Sajjan, Canada's Minister of Defence, for remarks that he was the "architect" of Operation Medusa, a major offensive in Afghanistan. Sajjan has apologized for that statement.

It may help dispel confusion to read the complete and unabridged letter of recommendation written in 2006 by Brigadier General David Fraser, then commander of Canada's Coalition Task Force in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

National Observer obtained a copy of this letter in 2015. We re-publish it today without comment. There is an image of the original letter below.

16 September 2006

Chief Constable J.H. Graham

Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police

1. I have had the pleasure of having Constable and Major Harjit Sajjan work for me for the past nine months on OPERATION ARCHER/ATHENA, Canada’s contribution to the global war on terror in Afghanistan. I must say that Major Sajjan is one of the most remarkable people I have worked with, and his contribution to the success of the mission and the safety of Canadian soldiers was nothing short of remarkable.

2. Maj Sajjan was specially selected for that demanding and challenging task of acting as the Liaison Officer of the Afghan National Police on behalf of the Combined Task Force (CTF) Aegis HQ because of the civilian skillset he has brought to the table as an undercover narcotics officer. His job further changed into being a special intelligence officer working direct to Commander CTF Aegis because of his ability to understand and exploit criminal networks. He consistently provided the most timely and accurate intelligence available, and he personally fused broad sources of information into an extremely coherent picture upon which most of the formations major operations were based. Not only did he display a rare high level of intellect and experience in his analysis, he also demonstrated remarkable personal courage in his collection efforts, often working in the face of the enemy to collect data and confirm his suspicions, and placing himself almost daily in situations of grave personal risk. His products were cogent and demonstrated a profound understanding of the Taliban (TB) and tribal networks which were critical in making formation and unit operations successful. He was the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre, and his hard work, personal bravery, and dogged determination undoubtedly saved a multitude of Coalition lives. Through his courage and dedication, Major Sajjan has single-handedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan.

3. He tirelessly and selflessly devoted himself to piecing together the ground truth on tribal and Taliban networks in the Kandahar area, and his analysis was so compelling that it drove a number of large scale theatre-resourced efforts, including OPERATION MEDUSA, a large scale conventional combat operation that resulted in the defeat of the largest TB insurgent cell yet identified in Afghanistan, with over 1500 Taliban killed or captured. I rate him as one of the best intelligence officers I have ever worked with - fearless, smart, and personable, and I would not hesitate to have him on my staff at any time in the future. I have advised my chain of command that the Canadian Forces must capture his skillset, and seek his advice on how to change our entire tactical intelligence training and architecture to best meet the needs of future deployed units fighting in extremely complex battle space.

4. I cannot thank you enough for allowing Constable Sajjan to deploy with us on OPERATION ARCHER, and he has been an outstanding representative of the Vancouver City Police. I would ask that you pass my personal thanks to Constable Sajjan, and to those who supported him and his family while he was over here with us. I pray that he stays safe now that he returns to the challenges and dangers of his “everyday job,” and ask that if I can ever be of assistance to either Constable Sajjan or your Department, that you do not hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

David Fraser

Brigadier General

Commander CTF Aegis

Sajjan letter of recommendation from Commander of Canada's Coalition Task Force, Afghanistan

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Comments

Thank you for this reporting. It is important to receive facts such as the recommendation letter that provides context to this quite obviously opposition led faux scandal. To me it evidences that that Minister Sajjan simply misused the word 'archtiect' as possibly a succinct way to communicate that his intelligence analysis was woven into the 'architecture' of the Mission.

I for one am a Canadian who is grateful to have someone of Minister Sajjan's character and competence in the National Defence Portfolio.

How does one misuse the word architect? He lied which is typical of the current Cabinet where a fair number have been caught lying about previous accomplishments but since people don't have the same reaction to lying about winning a Nobel Prize or what someone got on their LSAT the previous lying about accomplishments were minor stories. Lying about accomplishments in a military context is consider much more serious.

Further, this letter doesn't really help since it ties Sajjan to elements within Afghanistan that were later implicated in torture. That the role Sajjan was good at was being the liaison between elements committing torture and the Canadian Forces is something he rather not discuss. So much so that when a commission was formed into probing how Canada allowed this to happen Sajjan did everything in his power to avoid discussing his role as liaison and eventually Trudeau himself interfered to make the embarrassing past go away.

This is a storm in a tea cup, at best. At worst a lot of slanderous hype by ill informed media, opposition MPs and, sadly some public citizens. Consider this, in the context of Canadian Armed Forces personnel fighting, a difficult mission, in Afghanistan back then ... Sajjan was an informed well respected staff officer serving in theatre at the time (Ref - the above letter from commanding general). As a subject matter expert and serving staff officer it would have been his duty to analyze the situation carefully and draw up proposed plans for his superior officers to approve, orchestrate and implement. In this context I would submit that the word 'architect' is very appropriate. I stand with Sajjan. Ubique!

Paul
Hi didn't "draw up" anything. He was a CIMIC officer attached to the governor. All he did was pass along information to those who did draw up the plan, the generals staff principles, mostly the ops staff.

That is not actually what it says. To quote:

"2. ... He consistently provided the most timely and accurate intelligence available, and he personally fused broad sources of information into an extremely coherent picture upon which most of the formations major operations were based. ... His products ... were critical in making formation and unit operations successful. He was the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre, and his hard work ... has single-handedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan.

3. ... his analysis was so compelling that it drove a number of large scale theatre-resourced efforts, including OPERATION MEDUSA, a large scale conventional combat operation that resulted in the defeat of the largest TB insurgent cell yet identified in Afghanistan, with over 1500 Taliban killed or captured. ... the Canadian Forces must capture his skillset, and seek his advice on how to change our entire tactical intelligence training and architecture to best meet the needs of future deployed units fighting in extremely complex battle space."

Thanks for the truly journalistic approach: letting the facts speak for themselves. I keep thinking I hear the sounds of a desperate opposition! I can't imagine a replacement anywhere near Sajjit.

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