The foreign ministers Canada and France are scheduled to visit Afghanistan this weekend as NATO prepares to bolster its forces there.Especially when reports are circulating today that NATO has known since 2006 that Canada has been operating in the south with at least a 1000 troop deficit. What does the revelation of this information by General Hillier mean?
French diplomats say Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier and his French counterpart, Bernard Koucher, will be in Kabul on Saturday, then go on to Kandahar on Sunday.
The visit is meant as a follow-up to the French announcement last week that it is sending 700 more troops to Afghanistan.
More than 70 of the 82 Canadian combat deaths in Afghanistan have occurred since Canada moved to Kandahar, where it took command of the coalition's southern flank in February 2006. The causes of death have shifted from direct combat with insurgent fighters almost exclusively to roadside explosives and suicide bombings.So the ceremonial appearance by these Foreign Ministers is somewhat newsworthy, yes, but let's keep the facts in perspective on the Afghan mission.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said Hillier's admission was "clearly troubling."
"An undermanned mission has meant more risk for our troops, for civilians, and for the people of Afghanistan," said Rae (Toronto Centre).
Hillier was the final witness at the committee before MPs prepare a report on the Afghan mission. He was explaining why he suggested to a panel led by former Liberal foreign affairs minister John Manley that it recommend an extension based on additional troop support.
It took two years for NATO to meet the troop requirement it set for itself back in 2006, underlining the chronic problems the military alliance has had finding troops for the toughest fighting. (emphasis added)