The Canadian government’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan for three more years past the previous deadline of 2011 appears to make sense, at least on the surface, but sometimes the devil is indeed in the details.
Yes, such an important matter should have been debated in Parliament before such a decision was made, although it would not have changed the conclusion.
The Liberals have been calling for troops to remain in Afghanistan in a non-combat training capacity since June and would certainly have supported the government had the matter come to a vote in the House.
After all, while Canadians have had enough of seeing flag-draped caskets return from a war that appears to have no end in sight, very few of us wanted to see us pull out and abandon our allies on this mission, especially after the sacrifices that have been made. But there is no doubt that Canada has done its share of heavy lifting and a lower-risk training role is easier to swallow. Considering our troops’ experience in the field, their ability as trainers would also no doubt be a valuable asset.
Considering this battle has been going on for almost 10 years, one might argue that there has already been ample opportunity to train the Afghan army. In fact, reports have indicated that NATO does not need the 1,000 trainers Canada is committing, and have only called for 750 trainers from among the 42 countries with troops in Afghanistan. And that number includes trainers involved potentially in live combat, which the government assures Canadians will now be excluded from.
The role of our troops in Afghanistan will be watched closely by Canadians in the coming months, but the results of their efforts will be given even closer attention.
It is time to put politics aside and prove we are doing the right thing.