Monday, 21 May 2012

Canada Will Withdraw All Troops at the end of 2014

Canada has decided that handing over responsibility for Afghanistan to Afghan Security Forces means just that.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced, as the NATO Summit wound up, that Canada would withdraw all of its troops by the end of 2014. 

The Prime Minister said that withdrawing the troops was not abandoning the war torn country, but a transfer of responsibility to the Afghan people.  While no Canadian troops will remain in Afghanistan, Harper said that Canada would continue to support the Afghan Army by pledging $110 Million for the next three years.

Canada had been asked earlier by the United States and NATO to extend its present training contingent.  There has also been discussion as to maintaining Joint Task Forces 2 special operations troops in Afghanistan.  While the Prime Minister did not address JTF 2, it is clear that the 950 strong contingent of trainers will be coming home at the end of 2014.

NATO issued a declaration overnight stating that it would responsibly draw down its combat troops by December 31st, 2014.

"We are gradually and responsibly drawing down our forces to complete the ISAF mission by 31 December 2014. By the end of 2014, when the Afghan Authorities will have full security responsibility, the NATO-led combat mission will end."

 The United Kingdom had 414 of its soldiers killed in action, Canada 158, France 82, Germany 53, Italy 46, Denmark 42, Poland 35, Spain 34 and Australia 32, just to name a few.  Overall 3006 NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.  Add to that those wounded and psychologically damaged, one must ask the question if the cost was worth it.  Read More here 

President Obama announced that US troops would end their combat mission by mid 2013 and during a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced that the war in Afghanistan, as we know it, has ended.

During the NATO summit it became clear that all 28 NATO leaders were looking for a way out of the war torn country and that the leaders have recognized that the war is at a stalemate.  You won't, of course, not hear any of the leaders say this.  According to them there has been enough progress that assures that Afghan Security forces can take over and keep the Taliban at bay.

According to the NATO leaders, the Afghan Forces will be in a position to take on much of that role next year, permitting the exit of NATO combat forces.  NATO, however is committed to support and training of Afghan forces.  The bill is estimated to be $4.2 Billion a year.

Canada has been in Afghanistan since 2002 and ended its combat mission in July of 2011, but maintained a contingent of 950 trainers, with a commitment to 2014.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes that Canada has carried enough of the load in Afghanistan.  158 Canadian soldier lost their life.  If the trainers leave in 2014, Canada will have done that mission for three years. 

One can only hope that no more Canadians die on that mission.  


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