Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Political games? Who's playing political games, Steve?

On Tuesday, Steve Harper complained that Gilles Duceppe was playing politics on the backs of Canada's soldiers.

The only problem here is the political opportunism of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois . . . He's just playing political games on the backs of our soldiers.
That's not an uncommon feeling for any member of Canada's armed forces. There was a day, way back when we all wore green, when some of us changed our CANADA flashes for for shoulder markings that said POLITICAL FOOTBALL.

However, Harper is the one who should be taken to task here; not Duceppe. Harper, back in September, was doing worse by suggesting that taking casualties had made the CF a better military.

"It's certainly engaged our military," Harper said. "It has made it a better military."
"It's certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community where we used to have an important leadership role," Harper said.
There's more and Alison has it over at Creekside.
Let's clear something up here: While Harper is making the accusation that Duceppe is playing politics on the backs of Canada's soldiers, it is the inverse which is actually true.
Duceppe is actually demanding clarity and a rebalancing of THE MISSION.
Harper ignored that, either intentionally or because he truly is stupid, and made it a SUPPORT THE TROOPS jab.
So, again, we have Harper telling Parliament and, indeed all of us, that the only way to support the troops is to support the mission.
That suggests that in Harper's view, THE TROOPS ARE THE MISSION - a very dangerous position.
In smaller-scale contingency operations, such as Afghanistan, the mission should be clearly defined with achievable objectives leading to a tangible goal. If that involves combat operations of any intensity, that's fine so long as they remain within the definition of the mission. If there is a radical departure from the mission parameters because, say, the need for increased combat operations has prevented the mission from proceeding roughly according to plan, then the mission needs to be reviewed, redefined and replanned.
The more Harper speaks, the more it becomes apparent that he views the presence of Canadian troops in combat on foreign soil as the mission. That is little more than military adventurism.
Stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations require extensive strategic planning which includes a scale of disengagement. In other words, when and how we start to withdraw from military operations because we either met the goals of a strategic plan or, because after attempting to execute that plan, we are unable to make reasonable progress.
I'm quite sure Harper has no idea what all that means but, he has a Chief of Defence Staff, A Vice-Chief of Defence Staff and a Defence Minister who should. It's time he sat down with them and extracted some of their War College training.

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