WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? More on Big Buildings for KAF

There’s more info coming out about Canada’s search for someone to build ~$5.7 million worth of new infrastructure at Kandahar Air Field from the Sun Media chain (PDF of article here if link doesn’t work):

DND spokesman Maj. Jason Porteous said current storage and maintenance facilities are in rough shape. The project calls for a new 3,608-sq- metre building with a 26-bay workshop, wash bay, shelters, office space and land communication and information systems storage.

(….)

“It’s a project we’ve had on the books for a while. There’s a long lead time to get these going,” he said.

Despite Canada’s 2011 scheduled end date for the mission, Porteous said the project is still worth proceeding. It will also serve as a spot to prepare Canadian military vehicles for their return home.

So, we’re spending almost $6M for buildings we’ll be able to use for a bit before we leave?

I can’t fault the folks making the cogs of the system work – if it’s been in the works for a while, and it took this long to start the tender ball rolling, can’t blame those working the day-to-day levers of government.

Shows you what can happen, though, when the left hand is working on tasks long in the works, and the right hand isn’t saying anything about what’s going to happen down the road.

Exactly WHAT is a “Non-Combat” Mission?

The latest polling done by Leger Marketing for the Toronto Sun et. al. shows 45 per cent of those surveyed saying “Canada should step out of combat role and provide training and development only” (more detailed results on this question available here via Milnet.ca).

In addition to my tea leaf reading, I have some questions I hope is addressed by Sun Media (or any outlet’s) editorial writers and/or columnists supporting this idea:

  • If you have Canadian development or aid teams working on projects, and  these projects come under attack while Canadian troops are protecting them, will shooting back at the enemy constitute a “non-combat” mission?  (I will guess quite confidently some will say it certainly is if a Canadian soldier is killed in such an exchange)
  • If you have Canadian soldiers training Afghan troops and cops, but not being with them on patrol or on operations to mentor them and reinforce what was taught, how much is this going to increase Afghan security force confidence in Canadians?  Especially considering that now, from what I understand, Canadians are sharing the risks with the forces they train and mentor?
  • Is it a “combat mission” or not if Canadian troops join their Afghan trainees on patrol or operations?  After all, there’s a case to be made that it’s not the CANADIANS fighting, it’s the AFGHANS fighting with CANADIANS watching/supporting/mentoring, right?

As long as there’s an armed adversary willing to kill and maim to prevent humanitarian and development aid or programs from being delivered, someone is going to end up in a situation that some will consider “combat” in order to keep the work going.

I await answers to such questions from both the media as well as those ultimately responsible for sending troops and civilians into harm’s way.