23 September 2010

NATO to Ask Canada to Maintain Afghan Training Role

The Canadian government may or may not consider a forthcoming request by NATO to maintain a training role in Afghanistan once the combat mission ends in 2011. Much will depend on the outcome of a debate on Canada's post-2011 role in Afghanistan that is likely to take place in Parliament later this year.
NATO's ambassador to Afghanistan is flying 11,000 kilometres to Ottawa late next week to try to convince the Harper government the alliance badly needs military instructors to train Afghan security forces and that Canada is ideally suited to provide the staff after its combat mission in Kandahar ends July 1, 2011.

"I will speak to Canada about the overall progress of the campaign and where we think the shortfalls are and where we need additional resources and rebalancing," Mark Sedwill said in an interview Wednesday at NATO's fortress-like headquarters in the Afghan capital.

"Any decision that Canada makes now or in the future to continue to provide input on the military or civilian side would be tremendously welcome and not only because of the political importance of Canada.

"Canada has a first-rate army and with the experience of combat on the ground in Kandahar that army has been tested and tempered in the most difficult circumstances. Canada's skills in training, as in every other area of military competence are first rate."

The visit to Parliament Hill by Sedwill is part of a concentrated, multi-pronged strategy by NATO and its biggest players to persuade Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the crucial importance they attach to Canada maintaining some kind of military role in Afghanistan, which is slated to drop from nearly 3,000 troops to zero next year.
By: Shelldrake

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