That would seem to be this government’s likely answer, unless the Liberals (odd it should have come to that) take some sort of initiative themselves to encourage the extension in some form of our Afghan mission. By the way, Canada is saying “no” to the UN too, nice eh? From a story by Matthew Fisher of Postmedia News:
NATO official to press feds for post-2011 help training Afghans
KABUL — NATO’s ambassador to Afghanistan is flying 11,000 kilometres to Ottawa late next week to try to convince the Harper government that the alliance badly needs military trainers to school Afghan security forces and that Canada is ideally suited to provide them after its combat mission in Kandahar ends on July 1, 2011.
“I will speak to Canada about the overall progress of the campaign and where we think the shortfalls are and where we need additional resources and rebalancing,” Mark Sedwill said in an interview Wednesday at NATO’s fortress-like headquarters in the Afghan capital.
“Any decision that Canada makes now or in the future to continue to provide input on the military or civilian side would be tremendously welcome and not only because of the political importance of Canada.
“Canada has a first-rate army and with the experience of combat on the ground in Kandahar that army has been tested and tempered in the most difficult circumstances. Canada’s skills in training, as in every other area of military competence are first rate.”
The visit to Parliament Hill by Sedwill, who has served in the region for many years as a senior British diplomat, is part of a concentrated, multi-pronged strategy by NATO and its biggest players to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the crucial importance they attach to Canada maintaining some kind of military role in Afghanistan, which is slated to drop from nearly 3,000 troops to zero next year.
In a clear sign of the high importance that NATO and the U.S. attach to recruiting more trainers from across the alliance, U.S. President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen considered ways to tackle the training shortfalls when they met last week in Washington [interview with Mr Rasmussen here, plus more on other NATO members and trainers here]…
While NATO was acutely aware of the political “sensitivity” in Ottawa of what Sedwill referred to as this “delicate issue,” he said that “I don’t regard the door closed with Canada or any other country.”..
A resolution passed by Parliament [actually just the Commons] early in 2008 stated that Canada’s military mission in Kandahar must end next summer. However, the motion left open the possibility that troops could be deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan after that date [whereas the government lies and maintains the motion requires a complete withdrawal from the whole country, more on that at the middle of this post]. The House’s defence committee has called for a debate this fall on Canada’s military role after the Kandahar mission closes.
The Liberal party formally decided several months ago that it backed Canadian troops staying on in a training role here after next year. Many Conservatives are known to be of a like mind as the Liberals, but until now the prime minister has insisted that all the troops must come home.
NATO would not make a specific demand for troops when he visits Canada’s capital, Sedwill said. But it is an open secret that NATO would like Ottawa to contribute at least several hundred military trainers to teach in Afghan army and police academies.
Such an assignment would not involve the far more dangerous work of mentoring Afghan forces in the field [emphasis added]. It would also cost a tiny fraction of the current combat mission…
…the number of Canadian casualties has dipped sharply this year [emphasis added, how come that has not been more widely reported?] as its task force’s area of operations has shrunk to two, still very dangerous districts to the west of Kandahar City, after a huge influx of U.S. troops into the south of the country [more on current American operations here].
One wonders whether Prime Minister will have the political courage to stand up for Afghanistan–and Canada. Earlier:
Afstan: Even the Toronto Star seems open to keeping some Canadian troops
Afstan flash: One and half cheers for Peter MacKay/Dipper Update
Meanwhile back at the front in Afstan:
Afghanistan security ‘deteriorating:’ Feds
OTTAWA — Afghanistan’s security situation is “deteriorating,” with a rise in insurgent violence and intimidation of civilians, according to a new report on the war by the Harper government [report available here].
The latest quarterly report by the government, which covers the period from April 1 to June 30, also notes the assassination of several Afghan officials and an “early escalation of the fighting season.”
“This quarter was marked by a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, with increasing insurgent violence and intimidation targeting civilians, the assassination of several officials from Afghan government institutions and civil society, and an early escalation of the fighting season,” states the report, referring to the security situation as “increasingly volatile.”..
Despite the increasing violence, the report notes that Canada has made progress on a number of fronts. For example, the report notes that Afghan National Army forces have doubled in the dangerous Zhari district of Kandahar province, although the ANA’s overall capacity remained “unchanged,” according to the report.
Among other signs of progress, workers cleared 52,000 cubic metres of silt as part of the refurbishment of the Dahla Dam in Kandahar province, one of Canada’s “signature” reconstruction projects.
Three schools were refurbished with the help of Canadian Forces, bringing the number of refurbished schools to 19. More than 390,000 children in Kandahar received vaccinations for polio through a Canadian program…
Update: While on the covert front the CIA is even more active than generally thought (and doing some Great Gaming):
Paramilitary force is key for CIA
On an Afghan ridge 7,800 feet above sea level, about four miles from Pakistan, stands a mud-brick fortress nicknamed the Alamo. It is officially dubbed Firebase Lilley, and it is a nerve center in the covert war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The CIA has relied on Lilley, part of a constellation of agency bases across Afghanistan, as a hub to train and deploy a well-armed 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary force collectively known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. In addition to being used for surveillance, raids and combat operations in Afghanistan, the teams are crucial to the United States’ secret war in Pakistan, according to current and former U.S. officials.
The existence of the teams is disclosed in “Obama’s Wars,” a forthcoming book by longtime Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward [more here]…
A U.S. official familiar with the operations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the teams as “one of the best Afghan fighting forces,” adding that they have made “major contributions to stability and security.”
The official said that the teams’ primary mission is to improve security in Afghanistan and that they do not engage in “lethal action” when crossing into Pakistan. Their cross-border missions are “designed exclusively for intelligence collection,” the official said…
Then there’s this from Norman Spector (keep up the good work, a weekly must-read on Fridays), wonder what details the CIA has today–and is sharing with us:
A shocker for Canadians in Bob Woodward’s book
…we can expect pressure to leave some troops in Afghanistan to increase significantly between now and the NATO meeting in November. But, for Canadians, there’s also, according to the New York Times, a real shocker in the Woodward book – one that should be factored into the debate on Afghanistan as well as other national debates:
“A 2009 President’s Daily Brief and another highly restricted report, Mr. Woodward writes, ‘said that at least 20 al-Qaeda converts with American, Canadian or European passports were being trained in Pakistani safe havens to return to their homelands to commit high-profile acts of terrorism.’
‘They included half a dozen from the United Kingdom, several Canadians, some Germans and three Americans,’ the book continues. ‘None of their names was known’.”
Upperdate: Some very interesting US diplomatic documents from 2001-6 relating to the Pakistani role and situation are quoted in this article at Foreign Policy’s “AfPak Channel”:
Taliban strategy comes full circle