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22 mai 2012 2 22 /05 /mai /2012 17:30

Leopard C2 Canadian Forces photo USAF

 

May 22, 2012. By David Pugliese -- Defence Watch

 

 So the news coming out of the NATO meeting in Chicago is that Canada will withdraw all of its soldiers from Afghanistan in March 2014, on schedule.

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that Monday as the NATO summit ended. “The time has come,” Harper said. “All the benchmarks, all the milestones are being met to make this possible.”

 

Instead, Canada will provide more than $300 million over the next three years to Afghan security forces.

 

But some of those in uniform suggested to Defence Watch that the government’s position might change in 2014 if the situation in Afghanistan hasn’t improved.

 

I questioned that view, however, noting that it would be difficult for the prime minister to reverse course as the Canadian public doesn’t seem too keen for troops to continue on in Afghanistan.

 

The response from some soldiers Defence Watch consulted was that Harper has reversed his commitments before and could do it again if the situation was warranted (i.e. the insurgents had made such significant inroads that the Afghan government was in jeopardy).

 

Consider, they noted, Canada’s continually changing commitment to Afghanistan. Harper originally said in 2006 Canada would not “cut and run” from Afghanistan and would stay until the job was done.

 

But that changed and in the fall of 2009 Harper was adamant Canada’s military mission would end in 2011.

 

In January 2010 the prime minister made one of his strongest statements on the situation, telling the National Post: “We will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy. We will not be undertaking any kind activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission.”

 

But Harper reversed his position, committing troops to t he new training mission in Kabul and other parts of the country in 2011 (after coming under pressure from the U.S.). Defence Minister Peter MacKay said at the time, the training mission was “planned all along.” This training mission is to end in March 2014.

 

But come that date, will the Canadian government once again change its mind?

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