Monday, May 4, 2009

Opaque Canadian Forces Mission in Afghanistan

I take tracking the Canadian deployment in Afghanistan seriously. However, it's very hard to know what the goals and the results are when one reads the reports, like this one in the National Post: Forces dismantle police substation in Afghanistan ‘drawback’

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Canada's military says it has not abandoned villagers in the Taliban-controlled western Panjwaii district, insisting that the "drawback" of troops last week and the dismantling of a Canadian-built police substation are tactical victories.

Tearing down the Mushan substation signals the start of a new strategy that will see Canadian Forces troops move closer to Kandahar city, where the majority of Kandaharis live and where a greater security presence is considered an urgent priority.

But Mushan village and surrounding communities are now left without a fixed Canadian presence for the first time in two years, after hard-won battles and casualties in the area.

The police substation, lately referred to as a strong point, was taken apart and troops were redeployed in a large-scale operation called Munkiredal, the Pashto word for deny.


The entire Panjwaii district area remains an area of Canadian responsibility. The number of Taliban operating there is difficult to determine. Their movements are seasonal, and they concentrate in certain areas. Canadian officers can't say if there are fewer insurgents now compared to three years ago.

How do they expect to garner support on the homefront for the mission, when it is not clear what exactly they are doing and and if there is any success while doing it? The government needs to do more than claim: "We're doing important work."

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