Saturday, November 07, 2009

Canada's Post-2011 Mission: Guesses, Not Statements

This week, we read that Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk has given orders to start packing in Kandahar, in line with the March 2008 Motion of Parliament to be out of Kandahar by the end of 2011.

Today, the Globe & Mail fleshes out the form of the next phase of the mission with guesses:
Although the Conservatives have yet to make it clear, it’s expected hundreds of soldiers may need to remain behind to protect reconstruction and development. Retired major-general Lewis Mackenzie guesses up to 500 or 600 soldiers would stay in Afghanistan to keep watch over Canadian development projects or even to train local army and police.

The Harper government has so far been reluctant to spell out how many soldiers are staying behind after the 2011 pullout. During the 2008 election campaign, the Prime Minister acknowledged that not every single soldier will return with the combat pullout, and it’s expected lingering pressure from the Obama administration to help out may lead to a contingent remaining.

Military analysts speculated that Gen. Natynczyk’s decision to draw attention to withdrawal planning this week – his orders to make plans were actually given last summer – may have been an effort to force Ottawa to make clear its post-2011 intentions in Afghanistan.
That last bit in green is intriguing - we know about the initial release of this tidbit is that the Globe & Mail attributed the news to "a government official,". while the Toronto Star uses quotes straight from the CDS's mouth.

IF it's true, we'll see if it's enough to remind those who should speak to speak - a reminder on that from the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada:
Ministers are the principal spokespersons of the Government of Canada …. Ministers present and explain government policies, priorities and decisions to the public.
We wait still.

A wee bit more here.


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