DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: NO CANADIAN MILITARY PLANS FOR AFGHANISTAN POST-2011

 

No plans for Afghanistan after 2011, top general affirms

 

 

By David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

 

November 7, 2009

 

 

The Canadian military has no plans for troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the summer of 2011, despite recent suggestions that soldiers could take part in training or support roles, says Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk. In this file photo Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance sits against a mud wall in the volatile Dand district of Afghanistan.

 

The Canadian military has no plans for troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the summer of 2011, despite recent suggestions that soldiers could take part in training or support roles, says Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk. In this file photo Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance sits against a mud wall in the volatile Dand district of Afghanistan.

Photograph by: Craig Pearson, Canwest News Service

 

The Canadian military has no plans for troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the summer of 2011, despite recent suggestions that soldiers could take part in training or support roles, says the Canadian Forces’ top officer.

 

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk said Friday he has not made any recommendations to the government about a new role for the Canadian military and, until he’s told otherwise, he is strictly following the parliamentary motion that outlines a troop pullout by July 1, 2011.

 

“The guidance has been clear from Parliament, so let’s get on with it,” he said.

 

“Until I receive guidance that would change that, from the Canadian Forces standpoint, we are marching to the drum of that (Parliamentary) motion.”

 

Natynczyk acknowledged, however, that there is more than enough time to detail plans for a follow-on mission in Afghanistan for the Canadian Forces even if they end their combat mission.

 

“It’s still a year-and-a-half away; we’ve launched operations on less than that, but I can’t assume that,” he added.

 

In the meantime, Natynczyk has issued direction to commanders to begin planning to pull equipment from Kandahar. The first gear to be returned to Canada would be non-essential items but that would later be expanded to include everything from tanks to trucks.

 

There have been mixed messages on what role Canada will play in Afghanistan after summer 2011. Some opposition MPs have complained that statements by Defence Minister Peter MacKay have suggested soldiers will stay on in some role.

 

In addition, Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told CBS News last month there will be Canadian troops in Afghanistan after 2011, though “exponentially fewer.”

 

“I would caution you against saying dozens or hundreds or a thousand, there will be exponentially fewer,” Soudas said.

 

“Whether there’s 20 or 60 or 80 or 100, they will not be conducting combat operations.”

 

Harper later tried to clear up the confusion by noting that the military mission would be replaced by a civilian operation. Asked by Global News if there were a role for soldiers after 2011 or whether they would be pulled out, Harper said: “The plan is to move to a civilian, development, humanitarian mission.”

 

Natynczyk said it will take more than a year to get tons of equipment and supplies back to Canada. The military also has to figure out what, if anything, it intends to leave for the Afghan army and police

 

Natynczyk expects the contracts to hire companies to move the supplies and equipment back to Canada to be in place in early 2010. He, however, stressed that the Canadian Forces will continue to have a strong presence in Afghanistan right up until the pullout date of July 1, 2011.

 

Last month, International Trade Minister Stockwell Day indicated Parliament will have a major role in shaping Canada’s future commitment to Afghanistan. He called on the special House of Commons committee on Afghanistan to begin compiling ideas on what role Canada should have after 2011.

 

“I think the time is ripe for consideration by this committee, participants here, to give us your views, give us your direction, your suggestions,” Day said.

 

“I can well imagine another motion or another form of parliamentary direction. We’ve already indicated on the areas of social development, community development, human rights, institutional capacity; we are there for the long term.”

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

 

 

 

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