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Author Topic: Afgan Mission: 10 years  (Read 1072 times)

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Afgan Mission: 10 years
« on: Mar 03 06 12:00 »
[DIV id=headline][H2]Afghan mission: 10 years[/H2][H3 id=deck]Canada's top soldier Rick Hillier says rebuilding shattered nation will take decade or more [/H3][/DIV][DIV id=author][P class=byline]COLIN FREEZE

[P class=source]From Friday's Globe and Mail

[UL class=columnistInfo][/UL][/DIV][DIV id=article style="FONT-SIZE: 100%"][!-- dateline --]TORONTO [!-- /dateline --]— Canada needs to be in Afghanistan for the long haul, according to General Rick Hillier, who says the mission is part of an international reconstruction effort that will take at least a decade — and probably a lot longer.

"It was turned from a relatively advanced country back to the Stone Age ," the Chief of Defence Staff told The Globe and Mail's editorial board yesterday. "You're not going to have any success rebuilding that country in three or four or five years.

"From NATO's perspective, they look at this as a 10-year mission, right? Minimum. There's going to be a huge demand for Canada to contribute over the longer period of time."

[DIV class="bigbox ad" id=boxR][SCRIPT type=text/XXXXscript ads="1"]aPs="boxR";[/SCRIPT][SCRIPT type=text/XXXXscript]var boxRAC = fnTdo('a'+'ai',300,250,ai,'j',nc);[/SCRIPT][/DIV]A growing insurgency in Afghanistan has many Canadians questioning Ottawa's decision to station its troops around Kandahar.

The redeployment has had an ominous start. Yesterday, a 28-year-old corporal was killed and six other Canadian soldiers injured when their light-armoured vehicle crashed outside the city.

Ten Canadians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002, most of them in accidents. More casualties are anticipated, especially now that 2,300 troops have set up shop in the country's most lawless region.

"The reality is we're in the theatre and there will be some accidents," the Chief of Defence Staff said.

While he said he could not estimate how many soldiers will die, he stressed that the Canadian public needs to gird itself for a long mission, one that will probably involve development work beyond the military's current mandate to post troops there until 2007.

There is no need to discuss an exit strategy, Gen. Hillier said, adding that such talk would only buoy the spirits of an enemy that makes up in zealotry what it lacks in hardware.

"That communicates a message to the Taliban, and the terrorists who want to wait out activities, that they could," he said. "There's a saying that the Taliban used to use: 'You may have the watches, but we have the time.'"

The plain-spoken general made headlines last year for his macho pledge that his forces would kill terrorist "scumbags." But he also has a thoughtful side, which leads him describe his mission in more far-reaching terms.

Canada is "there to help Afghans rebuild their families and communities and become part of something stable, and get on with life," Gen. Hillier told The Globe. He added that terms like "war" and "peacekeeping" are outdated, at least when it comes to describing the long list of jobs his soldiers will be doing.

Decades of civil war and occupation have laid waste to Afghanistan, where warlords and ethnic groups have frequently fought among themselves in the periods when Soviet, U.S. or Arab fighters have not staked any claims to the country. A U.S.-led coalition ousted the fundamentalist Taliban regime in 2001, just months after Afghan-trained al-Qaeda terrorists killed 3,000 people in U.S. cities.

With Western help, a democratically elected Afghan central government is forming, but remains fragile as it lacks strong security forces needed to fight insurgents.

Canada can help create conditions that will curb Afghanistan's high infant-mortality rate, Gen. Hillier said, and help increase the average annual income of $300 to the point where farmers are less tempted to cultivate opium. But any development is contingent on security, the general said, and that's why the Canadian military's most crucial job is to help Afghans police themselves.

"We're doing an entire spectrum of operations, from straightforward negotiation and dealing with folks, to training police, training the army, to helping work with the international community. ... Right through to firefights with the Taliban, to ensure they are not going to be able to stop the progress."

No insurgent forces were involved in yesterday's collision, which took place on a routine patrol a few kilometres west of Kandahar.

The Department of National Defence said that a light-armoured vehicle (known as LAV III) struck a taxi on a newly paved highway, causing the army vehicle to flip over. The force sheered the gun turret and rear axle from the 21-tonne vehicle.

The soldiers were all from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. An interpreter with the soldiers was also hurt. The most seriously injured were airlifted to hospital.

The military identified the gunner killed in the crash as Corporal Paul Davis of Nova Scotia.

His father in Bridgewater said his son died doing what he loved.

"When he decided to go to Afghanistan, that really impressed me because he loved his family and his two children but he had the sense of duty, and comradeship with the other people he had been training with," Jim Davis said.

Cpl. Davis was a 10-year-veteran, who had served with the Canadian Forces mission in Bosnia. He recently had spurned a promotion that would have taken him out of Afghanistan.

"He said, 'I turned that down, Dad, because I want to be with the chaps,'-" his father said.

Two soldiers were seriously injured in the collision: Master-Corporal Timothy Wilson of Grande Prairie, Alta., and Private Miguel Chavez, who was born in El Salvador.

The road conditions in Afghanistan are notoriously dangerous, and the accident happened on Highway 1, which links the capital Kabul to Kandahar.

Much of the highway has been recently paved, but the upgrade has actually led to an increase in fatal road accidents, as drivers travel at a higher speed.

With reports from Tim Albone in Kandahar and Canadian Press

 

[img height=257 alt="General Rick Hillier speaks to The Globe’s editorial board about the Afghan mission Thursday: ‘There’s going to be a huge demand for Canada to contribute over the longer period of time.’ Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail" src="http://images.theglobeandmail.com/archives/RTGAM/images/20060303/wxafghan03/0303hillier.jpg" width=330]

General Rick Hillier speaks to The Globe’s editorial board about the Afghan mission Thursday: ‘There’s going to be a huge demand for Canada to contribute over the longer period of time.’ [CITE class=source](Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)[/CITE]

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"We can't stop here. This is bat country."

 

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