"If you're going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, I do think for the sake of legitimacy, I do think the government does require the support of Parliament. But when we're talking simply about technical or training missions, I do think that's something the executive can do on its own.
There's not been a "technical or training mission" occurring during a modern war where the trainers (think early US Vietnam) did not accompany their charges into battle. See OMLT (Google it for combat footage of training and mentoring in Afghanistan). Moreover, in Afghanistan the trainees have a habit of shooting their trainers. And nevermind that 25% desertion rate and the tendency for Afghan army and police weapons and ammunition end up in enemy hands, etc, etc.
If Stephen Harper means that the nature of how we train Afghans is going to change and that we'll run a fortified recruit school behind the wire at Kandahar airfield then that's something he might want to discuss with the rest of NATO. I don't think he's concerned about that, however. Observe the weasel words.
While the United States has called for Canadian training to include in-field mentoring of Afghan troops or police that would expose the trainers to the risk of firefights, Mr. Harper insisted that there will be no involvement in combat after next July.
“I know there are others in NATO who would like us to continue the combat mission. I’ve been very clear. That’s not an option Canada will consider,” Mr. Harper said.
By ending the "combat mission" Harper means dedicated Canadian participation in NATO-only offensive operations. We wouldn't be patrolling our own area of responsibility or manning patrol bases and posts on mountain tops. We would be training the ANA and ANP to do that which means doing it with them. And that involves combat and the risk of casualties that go with it. Indeed, given the guerrilla nature of that conflict preference for things like IEDs and the lack a clearly defined battle area, there are significant risks in just being present in that country. Anywhere. Saying the 'combat mission' is done is a lie until the Prime Minister clarifies his position.
About 325 Canadian Forces troops are currently in training missions in Afghanistan, including about 125 doing classroom instruction in secure staff colleges and training bases; NATO is calling for about 750 more. But the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, said on Wednesday he would like to see Canada continue the kind of “outside-the-wire” in-field mentoring that about 200 Canadians are doing now.
Unlike classroom training at bases and schools, mentoring means the risk of fire, and some fear it could slide toward involvement in combat. The Liberal vice-chair of the Commons committee on Afghanistan, Bryon Wilfert, said he’d be against outside-the-wire mentoring because Canadians would not support a post-2011 mission that would put their soldiers “in harm’s way.”
Until he states otherwise the mission is merely being reorganised.
Stephen Harper alone has taken it upon himself to risk Canadian lives that would not be at risk had he stuck to his committment to withdraw next year. Moreover, he feels that this is his personal prerogative and a parliamentary debate and vote is unnecessary. It appears that the Liberals are least at ease with the idea.
“That’s a discussion that needs to be had with all the parties after the government tells us exactly what it’s doing. But in principle, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary,” said Bob Rae, Liberal foreign affairs critic.
Congratulations Opposition, you've just handed the fucking prime minister his own personal army.
Oh yes, the must read today is the solar reactor of righteousness that is our Alison as she explains what things were like four years and today. The four year trend is unchanged. 2014? Same same but worse, I'm sure.
And the former CDS agrees: