Item: The latest expression of the “official” position of the government on what we’re doing in Afghanistan post-2011, notwithstanding some message teasing from the PM, from Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) during Question Period Friday:
There is absolutely no confusion on this side of the House about our position in Afghanistan. We have made it eminently clear that this government will respect the parliamentary resolution of 2008 and cease our military mission to Afghanistan in 2011. It will become a civilian and a development mission …. For the past several months, despite foot dragging by members of the Afghan committee, we have been putting forward motions to consider the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan. We urge opposition members of the committee to participate and to forward their suggestions to Parliament.
On that bit in red: have I missed something? What “motions” have the government put forward to consider re: the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan? Have I been in a cave? Or did things come up that were drowned out/swamped by that other thing the Committee was doing instead of considering the future mission? If you’re reading this, and can share a link or any proof of any such offer via the comments, go for it.
Item: The CF’s mission at this point remains clear: keep packing – this from the Chief of Defence Staff via CBC.ca:
“We have got very clear instructions from the government of Canada to move out on the withdrawal and that is what we’re going to continue to plan on.”
What this story doesn’t include is an interesting point in the CDS’s description of his task. CTV.ca’s story on the same issue quotes General Natynczyk talking about the March 2008 Parliamentary motion:
“From the Government of Canada through to the minister to me, it’s clearly a focus on enabling the motion as it stands today and that is the withdrawal from Kandahar in 2011 and the end of the military mission,” Natynczyk told reporters in Ottawa.
Compare and contrast this to Peter Kent’s statement in the House of Commons:
This government will respect the parliamentary resolution of 2008 and cease our military mission to Afghanistan in 2011.
General Natynczyk also mentioned who’s going to be staying (via CanWest/National Post):
He noted the institutions that will continue a non-military mission for Canada in Afghanistan include Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency, the RCMP and the correctional services.
Item: I’m all for keeping a Canadian military element behind to keep helping out, even with training. That said, former OMLT-eer Bruce R at the Flit blog reminds us that training “inside the wire” may not be easy, and has its hazards:
Afghan police and soldiers are trained on their own bases, obviously, but those are not “inside” coalition military facilities in any real sense. Afghans of any kind aren’t normally allowed free run of ISAF military facilities, so the two have to remain physically distinct. So really what you’re talking about is “inside the Afghan wire,” at least part of the time: in other words, either cohabiting with Afghans, or failing that, “commuting” from a nearby ISAF base.
Which can be fine, of course, given some sensible precautions: I always felt quite safe in those sorts of situations. But in this context it might be worth noting today’s news from Afghanistan.
…an American contractor died in a suicide attack against the police training center in Kandahar city, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said… The American contractor, who was not identified, and another person were killed when a team of three suicide bombers attacked the gates of the police training center….
I guess this still means we’re going, yes?