Canadian military commanders say it is the path to ultimate victory over the Taliban: take an Afghan village, clear out the insurgents, rebuild it and convince the locals that their government, and its western backers, are a force for good.
The so-called model village strategy has been endorsed by the commander of United States and NATO forces in the country, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, as the counterinsurgency model that will prevail in the coming months and years.
But officials in Afghanistan and Ottawa say the crucial element in the strategy — long-term development — is not happening because the Canadian International Development Agency has failed to issue the contracts and cash that are the lynchpin of success for coalition forces.
Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the Senate defence and national security committee, first sounded the alarm in a written submission that is published today in the op-ed section of the Toronto Star.
“No contracts have been let,” he said in an interview. “Two more villages (after the initial move into Deh-e-Bagh, a village in Kandahar’s Panjwaii district) have essentially been cleared by the Canadian Forces and nothing’s happening.
“CIDA’s not issuing contracts and the message that’s working its way out is that we’re pulling out in 2011 and that’s not too far from now and we don’t have any instructions as to what we should be doing.”
The development agency has so far provided planning and “modest financing” for some short-term projects. It has, for example, helped build an office in the village centre where Afghan government departments can establish a “working presence” in Deh-e-Bagh.
Sources in the defence department have confirmed Kenny’s contention that CIDA has hit a bureaucratic “roadblock” in an effort deemed vital for success in Kandahar and greater security for Canadian soldiers.