Canada would keep as many as 1,000 troops in Kabul as part of a plan to extend the country's mission in Afghanistan and convert it into a non-combat role after 2011, CBC News has learned.Additionally, it is being reported that the plans are to be shared with NATO allies in coming days. Well that's nice of them to be sharing it with NATO but apparently with no one here at home.
Up to 750 trainers and at least 200 support staff would work outside the combat zone at a training academy or large training facility for Afghan soldiers and police officers, the CBC's James Cudmore reports. They would remain in Afghanistan until 2014 at the latest.
Further, the AP is now reporting it too:
Canada will keep between 900 and 950 troops in Afghanistan in a noncombat training role after Canada's combat mission ends in 2011, a senior government official said Monday.The glaring question though, we have a parliamentary resolution in place that says the combat mission ends in July 2011. That is the operative parliamentary mandate now. How can there be a change without a further parliamentary resolution? The manner that this is being done in deserves much attention.
The official said that 750 military trainers and about 200 support troops will remain and most likely be based in Kabul. They would remain in Afghanistan until no later than 2014.
Meanwhile, Michael Ignatieff is pushing for a public process:
"This isn't the kind of thing you want to do some secret deal with the Liberals about. This is a conversation that has to be done with Canadians," he said.More:
“This government is (less than) two weeks away from Lisbon, the NATO meeting, (and) they are scrambling because they are under pressure from their allies,” he told reporters, adding the first his party heard of it was Friday.
“This is amateur hour,” he said.
Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae first raised the possibility of an extended training mission post-2011 during a visit to Kandahar this summer. But Ignatieff said he’s not prepared to endorse a plan he knows nothing about.Make them publicly propose. The Canadian people deserve that and Ignatieff is right to push for it.
“This is a conversation that has to be had with Canadians. How many trainers? For how long? Who else is training? What are your training targets? What kind of mission is this? We have 10 years there, if there is a mission after 2011 the government owes Canadian an explanation,” he said.
Update (12:15 a.m.): If the plan is set, it may be too late for any public discussion in any event. Judging by the reports, that might be the case.