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Sajjan was on leave from his regular job as a police officer, and when he returned home, Brig.-Gen. James Terry, who was then commanding American forces in Afghanistan’s southern provinces. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, addresses the ship’s company of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship WINNIPEG on the ship’s flight deck during his visit to the ship on December 23, 2015 during Operation REASSURANCE.David Fraser sent a letter to the Vancouver Police Department, praising Sajjan as “the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre,” and crediting him with saving “a multitude of coalition lives.” Not only was Sajjan brave, Fraser said, he had “single-handedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan.” Sajjan returned to Kandahar for another tour with the Canadian Forces in 2009, and then, the following year, was loaned to the U. (Cpl Stuart Mac Neil/NCSM Winnipeg Camera) Sajjan says his success in Kandahar grew mainly out of his ability to talk to village leaders over countless cups of tea, patiently earning their trust. They knew he wasn’t a Muslim, but respected the “warrior culture” of the Sikhs.While Sajjan’s combat-zone and policing exploits seem to be what set him apart from most politicians, his experience with agricultural piecework may have been more definitive.“My generation, other friends I grew up with, a lot of whom are very successful now, we met berry picking,” he says.“And we reduced recruitment; a lot of sons who were fighting for the Taliban, we got them off the battlefield.” Related reading: Inside Trudeau’s Zen army Although Sajjan describes making sense of Kandahar mainly through a combination of street smarts and cultural sensitivity, he also kept up on academic research.In early 2007, he sent an email to Barnett Rubin, perhaps the leading U. expert on Afghanistan, and author of several books, including most recently called “Saving Afghanistan,” and passed along his own assessment about what to do about Afghanistan’s opium economy and its connections to state corruption and Taliban financing. In an interview, Rubin explained how Sajjan’s background in police work suited the challenges he encountered on the ground in Kandahar.Sajjan was able to meet Muslim religious leaders who carry a great deal of authority and prestige in the district.

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His first deployment to the southern Afghan province of Kandahar was in 2006, when Canadian troops fought against fierce Taliban resistance in what was called Operation Medusa.Harjit Sajjan has an understated way of talking about his days combatting drug gangs as a Vancouver police detective or uncovering the secrets of Taliban networks as a reserve officer during three tours of duty in Afghanistan.But the voice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s surprise choice as his minister of national defence takes on a tone of greater urgency when the subject is picking berries.Sajjan, now 45, came to Vancouver from a village in India as a five-year-old with his mother and sister, joining his father who had immigrated to British Columbia a few years before to find work in a sawmill.As the family struggled to get established, the way immigrant families always have, his mother made money by working through the summer months on the berry farms of B. So from the time Sajjan and his sister, who is two years older, were small children, until they were in adolescence, their mother would wake them before sunrise on summer days to catch a van that swung though their south Vancouver neighbourhood, picking up immigrants and driving them to the fields. “Imagine every single day getting picked up at 5 a.m.

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