Thursday, January 07, 2010

CF out of Afstan: Looks like the government's dance is really over/Update: Dutch and Germans

After all sorts of verbal contortions from the government, Prime Minister Harper is about as definitive as one can be that the CF are really going to be out of the Sandbox by the end of 2011:
No troops after 2011, PM says
Any future commitment civilian only; no desire for spring vote: Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says virtually all Canadian soldiers will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2011, making some of his most definitive statements yet on his vision of Canada’s future role there in an interview Wednesday with Canwest News Service.

Parliament has already decided that the combat mission involving about 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan centred around Kandahar will end in 2011.

The Department of National Defence has already started preparing detailed plans to move troops and material home [more here].

But at various times over the last two years since that decision was made, there has been some consideration about using Canadian Forces personnel in a different or non-combat capacity, or to station Canadian soldiers in a different, more peaceful part of the country.

Harper ruled out such a possibility.

“We will not be undertaking any kind of activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission,” Harper said.

“We will continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions, as well as important diplomatic activity in Afghanistan. But we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy.”..

Harper said there are still outstanding questions to be resolved about the role and purpose of Canadian aid officials and Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan after 2011.

“We have been working on those answers, but the bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011,” said Harper...
Got that? A decision taken without any formal consideration in Parliament of the nature of the future Canadian effort in Afghanistan, contrary to what the government seemed to be saying in October 2009.

One wonders if our decision will have any impact on the debate in the Netherlands about whether to extend their military mission beyond 2010, when it is scheduled to end.

Now when will our media report that the tours of our current battle group roto and its successor (now to be the last such combat battle group) have been, very quietly, extended?

Dutch Update: Via at

1) As of yesterday, NLD's cabinet was reportedly undecided on its presence in Uruzgan (although it appears, from this report, that they'll keep their jets in K'Har).

1) The Civil Leader of Task Force Uruzgan/Director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Uruzgan is already talking about this roto being the "last-but-one" as well:

Right from the very start, General Van Uhm and I were asked what the main element would be of our deployment as respective military commander and civil representative of the Task Force Uruzgan (TFU) number VII. We knew that our mission would last until February 2010 and that after that - on the basis of political decisions taken in 2007 - there would be one more task force, in the same form, due to operate until 1 August 2010. So, our wasn't simply TFU-VII, but in fact more TFU 'last-but-one' ....
Meanwhile the Germans are also coming to a crunch:
The US clearly expects Germany to increase the number of troops it has stationed in Afghanistan. But Chancellor Merkel's government is a long way from agreement on the issue. With an Afghanistan conference looming in London, however, Berlin is running out of time.

There are a number of ambiguities ahead of the Afghanistan Conference, set to take place in London at the end of the month. Perhaps the most curious, however, is the guest list. Indeed, it isn't even yet clear who will be representing Germany at the Jan. 28 summit...

It is now up to the chancellor. As so often, Merkel has given little indication as to which way she is leaning, preferring instead to let her ministers battle it out. But time is no longer on her side. The US announcement this week that it intends to send 2,500 soldiers of its own into German-controlled northern Afghanistan [I'd missed that - MC] ups the pressure on Merkel. Furthermore, US special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke wondered in an interview with the influential weekly Die Zeit whether Germany would honor the West's common interest in bringing the Afghanistan engagement to a successful conclusion.

In order to ensure that Germany doesn't head to London empty handed, Berlin is currently working on putting together a compromise offer, according to government sources. The package is said to include a modest troop increase of not more than 1,000 soldiers, many of them earmarked to help train Afghan forces. In addition, more police trainers are to be sent and Berlin will make more development money available [i.e. no commitment to any real combat role]...

...the pressure from the US is also unlikely to weaken. Only recently, the US demonstrated just how precarious the situation has become in Kunduz, where the German command is based in Afghanistan. In an extended gunfight last weekend, US troops killed 25 insurgents just northwest of the German base. According to SPIEGEL ONLINE information, there were four foreign fighters from Chechnya among the dead as well as five who Western intelligence agencies say belonged to al-Qaida [more on Kunduz here].

Stomping Ground for Terrorists

The American message seems clear: If the Germans either do not want to, or cannot, help, then US will have to move in and clean up...


Blogger Positroll said...

"Only recently, the US demonstrated just how precarious the situation has become in Kunduz, where the German command is based in Afghanistan."
Typical for Spiegel Online. There's only a PRT and parts of the QRF in Kunduz. That of course is the problem, considering that Kunduz historically is the heart of the Taliban movement in the north ...
I guess what we will see is the US doing most of the fighting and the German army muddling through as before. If things go south, the left in Germany will blame things on the "too militant" approach of the U.S., of course ...

6:24 a.m., January 08, 2010  

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