Two tidbits jump out at me today.
1) Canadians appear to be split down the middle with respect to support for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan (with about 1/2 saying they want to know more).
- Guess Who Else Says People Should Know More About AFG Mission?
- Time to Explain Why, What Happens Next
- Selling Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan
The general responsible for all Canadian troops overseas was emphatic this week that his forces will not provide security for Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar City beyond next summer.
“It is cease operations across the board in July, 2011,” Lt.-Gen Marc Lessard said in an interview. “The (operational mentor and liaison team), the battle group, the PRT, helicopters. Operations cease.”
However, the parliamentary order that Canada’s soldiers come home next year has put diplomats and aid workers at the PRT in a quandary because Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently said that Afghanistan is to become “a strictly civilian mission” after 2011 and would continue to be a huge recipient of Canadian aid.
The difficulty with the prime minister’s stance is that public servants and police that Ottawa has sent to Kandahar City to oversee aid projects and to counsel local authorities on such issues as education, medical care, water management, policing and governance are entirely dependent upon several hundred Canadian infantrymen and combat engineers for their safety and transport.
“There is a political decision that we are awaiting guidance on and when we get it, the civilians will know what they are doing,” said Ben Rowswell, Canada’s representative in Kandahar (RoCK), when asked about the apparent contradiction in the Harper government’s positions on the withdrawal and a continuing civilian mission ….
I guess the Government didn’t see this coming, right? >>insert eyeroll here<<