Canadian troops could remain “behind the wire” in Afghanistan involved in training local troops after their combat mission ends next summer, the Star has learned.
While the Conservative government is holding firm that the combat mission will end in 2011, one of three options emerging is that some soldiers could remain in the troubled nation, well away from combat zones, as trainers.
The other two potential roles on the table are aid and development, a senior government official told the Star. There are roughly 3,000 soldiers involved in Canada’s Afghan mission. The size of the training contingent would be “much smaller” and would be away from Kandahar, a hotbed of the insurgency, the official said …. there’s a chance that Harper will be ready to present allied leaders with several options of what Canada is prepared to do in Afghanistan post-2011.
With less than a year before troops begin their pullout, discussions between officials at foreign affairs, defence and international development have taken on fresh urgency to frame the next stage of the mission.
Officials have already briefed the Liberals in their role as the official opposition about the options being considered, suggesting the Conservatives are hoping to avoid a bitter partisan fight over the future of Canada’s biggest foreign policy priority.
Conservatives have taken note of comments by both Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Liberal MP Bob Rae, the party’s foreign affairs critic, suggesting their party would be open to a continued Afghan role for Canada ….
Why doesn’t anyone have the courage to either say, “hey, we’re done” or “no, the right thing to do is to keep helping”? Could it be the polls?
Or could it be, as some theorize, a case of different sides in the government wanting different things?
I’ll believe a change when I see it.