Canadians ready for Afghan withdrawal
Sep 4, 2013 / 2:16 pm
Canadian troops will begin a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan next month, leaving fewer than 100 soldiers on the ground by the time the training mission officially comes to end in March.
But questions remain about whether the Afghan force Canadians have been training will be capable of fending off the continued onslaught of insurgents.
Maj.-Gen. Dean Milner, who's in charge of Canadian troops and is deputy commander of the NATO training mission, expressed confidence the Afghan National Army and police will be able to meet the challenges.
"The Afghans, as you know, are 100 per cent in the lead. So there's no doubt in my mind they're taking more casualties," he said in a conference call from Kabul.
Despite that, he said, there is "nothing that is precluding them from defeating the Taliban."
But U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Milner's boss and the NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in a recent interview with the British media he believes Afghan forces are suffering an "unsustainable" level of casualties and that the fledgling army might need western help for another five years.
Milner says trainers have been working to mitigate the threats against Afghan troops by providing more extensive training for avoiding and diffusing roadside bombs and booby traps.
"The Afghans are putting a big focus on that," he said. "Their confidence is growing."
Canadian troops, who fought a five-year counter-insurgency war in southern Afghanistan, have been training Afghan military instructors and providing basic literacy courses at camps around Kabul, and in the northern part of the country, since the summer of 2011.
Milner said he visits Kandahar frequently and the region is now more stable.
Read more Canada News
- Roots led to writing for Alice Munro
- Man accused of killing three-year-old
- Harper and former PMs pay respect
- Man to stand trial after Mounties shot
- Environment Min. posts dead bear photo
- Economy adds 21,600 jobs in November
- Widow urges soldiers to 'Go get help'
- B.C. Mountie gets two years probation
- Quotes from Mandela in Canada
- We've lost a great moral leader: Harper
- Harper weighs in on solider suicides
- 'Outright lie,' says Rob Ford