Prime Minister Stephen Harper must take personal responsibility for the success or failure of Canada’s Afghan mission by pressing NATO allies for an extra 1,000 troops for Kandahar while better explaining the mission to Canadians here at home, a respected study group says.
And if Canadian soldiers don’t get NATO reinforcements, along with new transport helicopters and unmanned surveillance planes to track insurgents, Canada should withdraw from its security mission in Kandahar in February 2009, the independent panel said yesterday.
The five-member panel, led by former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley, painted a “brutally frank” picture of the difficulties NATO armies face bringing security to the war-torn country, challenges that include a worsening insurgency, ineffective aid strategy, poor co-ordination between defence, foreign affairs and development officials, and an imbalance between the military and civilian efforts.
“What we’re saying is that the mission is in jeopardy. There simply are not enough troops to ensure that the job can be properly done in Kandahar province,” Manley told a news conference.
“But there is a significant difference between saying, ‘We’re gone in February 2009,’ and saying, ‘We’re staying provided you find us a partner.’”