Mission Messaging Mambo: We’re Outta Here!

nother day, another step or two in the mambo…

This, from the Toronto Star:

The Conservative government says there may be no need for a debate and vote in the House of Commons on Canada’s role in Afghanistan when the current military mission expires in 2011 …. The government has not yet decided whether to send a smaller number of Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan to protect the country’s development and humanitarian efforts after 2011. And if no soldiers are deployed overseas there is no obligation on the government to seek the approval of a majority of MPs in Ottawa, said one senior government official, speaking on background.

Meanwhile, according to the Canadian Press, the Globe & Mail and the U.S. Armed Forces Press Service, Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay has already started talking with the Americans.

(MacKay) said U.S. troops would be able to fill the gap left by departing Canadian soldiers – an assertion backed up Friday by U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates. MacKay said he’s had talks on the matter with the Americans, but no firm conclusion has been reached. (CP)

Canadian forces will continue to deploy to Regional Command South in Afghanistan through the end of 2011, but Canadian aid will continue beyond that date, MacKay said. The minister said Canada will continue to work with the United States and other NATO nations to ensure security for necessary infrastructure projects. (AFPS)

Mr. MacKay said talks have commenced “with other countries, including the United States,” on force protection for Canadian development workers expected to stay after combat troops leave in 2011, as planned. He noted that U.S. soldiers already protect the Dahla Dam, a major project often cited as an example of Canada’s positive impact in the country. (G&M)

So, what do we know now?

1)  The Americans say they’ll be able to protect aid and diplomatic workers if/when Canada pulls its troops from Kandahar (if we go by the wording of the Parliamentary Motion).

2)  If the decision ends up being “all troops out, no more troops back in (except for a wee few at the embassy)”, there’s no need to bring this back to Parliament for discussion.

Wait a minute, though.

When the whole mission package was agreed to via the Parliamentary Motion, the package was “Canadian troops protecting Canadian diplomats and development workers in the field.”  Now, it appears the package will move from old model of 3D “defence, development, and diplomacy”, to 2D “development and diplomacy”.

But wait, a shift from 3d…  Where have I read something about that before?  Why, in an interview with the former Deputy Minister of Canada’s Afghanistan Task Force, David Mulroney (PDF here if link doesn’t work) – highlights mine:

We’ve made changes to how we coordinate the various Ottawa-based departments and agencies engaged in Afghanistan. This shift has helped us to move beyond the old “3D” approach of defence, development, and diplomacy, to a truly coherent whole-of-government approach and one that is managed by a committee of Ministers – the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan – coordinated by the Afghanistan Task Force created within the Privy Council Office.

Well, I have harped in the past about the civilianization of the mission (here, here and here, for starters), so this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Given the reluctance of politicians to discuss what happens next in detail, I’m going to go on a limb, and make a prediction:

If there’s no election to either change the government, or bring about a majority in Parliament, the troops are gone, full stop.

Although the Motion says “out of Kandahar”, given how discussion averse politicians seem to be, I can’t see Canadian troops being moved to another part of Afghanistan to fight, or even train (because you can’t really train/mentor without fighting with the trainees/mentees).

Creeping civilianization of mission + motion talking about troops outta there + no public discussion of future mission = no more Canadian troops in K’Har (or Afghanistan, for that matter)

I’ll be happy to donate $100 to a worthy cause if I’m wrong.

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