KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The commander of Canadian Forces stationed overseas is warning of a tough summer ahead for troops in Afghanistan.
Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard said insurgent activity has spiked since his last visit to the base in early May.
“It’s going to be a tough summer. Insurgent activity is high,” Lessard said Tuesday at Kandahar Airfield. “But we’re maintaining our presence not only to counter the insurgency but to keep the link with the population.”
Lessard, the head of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, there is a stronger enemy presence in the rural districts that border Kandahar city such as Arghandab, Zhari and Panjwaii.
In recent weeks, there have been a series of bombings throughout Kandahar province including one last week that killed 40 people at a wedding celebration in Arghandab.
There were 33 coalition deaths in April compared to 51 in May. And, the number of coalition fatalities this month is on pace to surpass last month’s total, with 39 killed so far.
During his last visit to Afghanistan, Lessard said the Canadian military would strive to avoid large-scale fighting with the Taliban. He said that was still the aim, despite the increased enemy presence.
“The intent has not changed,” he said. “What has changed to some degree is enemy activity in the districts has increased, so that means we have to be more vigilant.”
Lessard finished a five-day tour that included visits to forward operating bases and combat outposts.
Canada has about 2,800 military personnel in Afghanistan.