In an interview with the Canwest News Service a few days ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made some of his most definitive statements to date on the future of the Canadian presence in Afghanistan. He pledged that Canada would continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions in the country but stated that “we will not be undertaking any kind of activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission.”
“We will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence,” he said, “other than the odd guard guarding an embassy.”
Click through to read excerpts from the article.
David Akin, Canwest News Service: Thursday, January 7, 2010
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper says virtually all Canadian soldiers will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2011, making some of his most definitive statements yet on his vision of Canada’s future role there in an interview Wednesday with Canwest News Service.
Parliament has already decided that the combat mission involving about 2,500 troops in southern Afghanistan centred around Kandahar will end in 2011. The Department of National Defence has already started preparing detailed plans to move troops and material home.
But at various times over the last two years since that decision was made, there has been some consideration about using Canadian Forces personnel in a different or non-combat capacity or to station Canadian soldiers in a different, more peaceful part of the country.
Harper ruled out such a possibility. “We will not be undertaking any kind of activity that requires a significant military force protection, so it will become a strictly civilian mission,” Harper said. “We will continue to maintain humanitarian and development missions, as well as important diplomatic activity in Afghanistan. But we will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy.”
Harper said there are still outstanding questions to be resolved about the role and purpose of Canadian aid officials and Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan after 2011. “We have been working on those answers but the bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011,” said Harper.
Photo by MCpl Bruno Turcotte