Friday, November 13, 2009

Post-2011: MND MacKay still dancing the Afghan fling

The Chief of Defence Staff has been, er, crystal clear:
CDS serves a hard Afghan ball to the government

That ball is now very firmly in their court. Time soon to end their dancing. Good on General Natynczyk, after having been much quieter that his predecessor, for coming through loud and clear:
Soldiers out of Kandahar by 2011: defence chief...
But his minister is still obfuscating:
MacKay also addressed the future role of Canadian forces in Kandahar, saying the plan of Canada's top commander to withdraw all of the country's soldiers from Kandahar by 2011 was consistent with the government's own stance.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk had told CBC News in an exclusive interview that the parliamentary motion on the Afghan mission specifies that it ends in July 2011, and that means the pullout of Canadian Forces.

CBC News had previously reported that Natynczyk ordered his commanders to start preparing plans to pull out of Afghanistan and return thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars' worth of equipment to Canada.

MacKay said Natynczyk's interpretation of Parliament's instructions to withdraw from Kandhar was "reflective of what everyone from the prime minister on down views as those instructions."

But MacKay was unclear on what direction the mission would take after 2011 and whether it would involve regions of the country outside of Kandahar.

"The military mission is changing. It is obviously transitioning at 2011 to emphasis on reconstruction, development, things that we are doing now but we'll be able to do more," he said.

"And clearly, there is discussion as to how this is going to take place. We're tasked with that now."

Last month, the prime minister's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, told CBC News that Canadian soldiers would remain in Afghanistan past 2011, though he suggested a force much smaller than the 2,800-troop mission currently in Kandahar.
The Commons' resolution says out of Kandahar. Period. But not Afstan. What is the government going to propose, presumably for a Commons' vote, and when? This is getting seriously ridiculous.


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