Canada is considering outsourcing military work in Afghanistan and pulling soldiers from low-profile foreign missions to relieve the pressure of fighting in Kandahar, guarding the 2010 Olympics and protecting world leaders in Muskoka.

According to documents obtained by the Toronto Star, more than 32,000 military personnel — about half the entire Canadian Forces — will be in training or set to deploy on missions to Kandahar, the Vancouver Olympics and next summer’s G8 meeting in Huntsville between this summer and July 2010.

That staffing burden makes it impossible to carry on current operations and still respond to the weekly requests for Canadian soldiers from the U.S., NATO and the United Nations, the military says.

The defence department has labelled the problem “Personnel Crunch 2010.”

“We ... are now at the point where some requests that would seem to be minor (e.g., for only a few personnel) are, in reality, difficult to source initially and impossible to sustain over the 2010 time frame,” says a March 17 memorandum to chief of defence staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

Military officials are already considering passing some of the force’s signature work in Afghanistan to civilian contractors or retired soldiers. Canadian soldiers in Kandahar will also be ordered to train and mentor additional Afghan army battalions on the front lines without the help of more troops, say the documents, obtained under the Access to Information Act.

Canadian participation in smaller peacekeeping missions could end or be drastically cut, the memo also reveals.

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