The Canadian military’s plans to get every last soldier and tank out of Kandahar by the end of next year are detailed and well-advanced, even as it plans for contingencies ranging from exit routes to snap elections at home.
Internal documents obtained by the Star show the highly-secretive Mission Termination Task Force is grappling with the cost of an exit strategy that could be thrown into chaos if a new government in Ottawa decides to recommit to Afghanistan.
Between July and December 2011, when the withdrawal is to be completed, the Taliban insurgency is still expected to be active – despite a series of major offensives planned this year – and a substitute force to take Canada’s place has yet to be found.
Then there’s the physical path out of war-torn Afghanistan. It’s a dusty, dangerous unpaved route laden not only with roadside bombs and bandits, but despotic regimes, rough terrain and enemies.
The military is also aware of the possibility that governments could use the country’s need for a 2011 withdrawal as a bargaining chip for their own commercial gain.
And if that weren’t enough of a headache, throw in the turbulent political situation back home, where a snap federal election could lead to a head-spinning decision to recommit to the decade-old war….