Friday, December 24, 2010

The Future of Canada in Afghanistan

Good piece with some smart thoughts by leading Canadian political scientists on the new training mission in Afghanistan.  The trio of Bland, Paris and Hampson give a good idea of the sources of the new mission (the realization that Obama and pals would be mighty miffed), the risks (non-combat does not mean no casualties), and the uncertainties.  The only modification I would make is that I am pretty damned certain that the training will not be out in the field.  While Afghanistan would certainly benefit by Canadians playing the role of Observers/Mentors/Liaisons (Omelets), that is not going to happen.  All the behind the wire stuff is language that essentially means that Canadians will return to the days of being heavily caveated--restricted from going out in the field.

Is Paris right that there are risks of IEDs hitting convoys?  Yes, but the roads being traveled will be far safer, and they will be over shorter distances if the promise of being in or near Kabul are kept.  Another risk, currently unadvertised, is that you might find Canadians in British or American units as part of exchange programs (just as CDS Natynczyk went to Iraq with the American units in 2003) in harm's way.  But the risks are going to be dramatically lower.  I think the only real risk to the government is if there are Canadians harmed who are not where they are supposed to be.  If the government breaks its promise or if the promises are poorly implemented, then a loss or two would be a big deal.  If a convey from Kabul to someplace close by gets hit, I think that will not be as problematic as this article suggests.

But I have been wrong before, and the folks cited in this piece are quite sharp....

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