Monday, March 13, 2006

Afghanistan: Canada military: Canadian troops in Afghanistan surprise visit from Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Never do I recall a visit by a Canadian Prime Minister to the country's troops in the Balkans or Haiti, where the Canadian Forces have been active as "peacekeepers" for some time. Nor do I recall a visit to our country's troops in Afghanistan - until yesterday when when the new Conservative PM flew to Kabul, then got out and about to rub shoulders with Canada's fiters for freedom, democracy, and a future peace in that far-distant land.
Cnda's mission Afghanistan
Harper actually went to Kandahar, the former bastion of the Taliban, and still a very dangerous place. As Globe & Mail's Allison Dunfield reports today [Hat Tip to Norman's Spectator - Afternoon Update, Harper addressed a thousand of our military there:
The Prime Minister is in a zone where Canadian soldiers are clearly being targeted. Earlier this year, senior diplomat Glyn Berry was killed in a bombing that severely wounded three other soldiers. Most recently, two soldiers were killed in a vehicle collision, while yet another soldier was critically injured in an axe attack. Still others have been subjects of suicide attacks.
He said high morale and the determination of the troops is what will keep Canadian troops most engaged in the mission.
"I can assure the Canadians and others that our commitment will remain just as strong."
Mr. Harper also noted that the mission is important to protect Canada from terrorist threats and to help rebuild Afghanistan so that democratic rights, women's rights, the right to education are protected.
I find it most salutary that Harper took the trouble to single out the three specific gains he envisioned Canada as contributing to in the one overall process of rebuilding that mostly-Muslim country.
Canadians have already spilled their own blood for that process and those goals. I salute the troops of the Canadian Forces in that difficult fite for the Afghani people and its fledgling democratic government. And I salute our pro-active pro-Forces new Prime Minister. As he said recently, ending a speech, to the dumbfoundedness of politicians and pundits, "May God bless Canada." - Politicarp

UPDATE from the Maisonneuve email newsletter re the Canadian miitary mission taking place currently in Afghanistan:


Everyone in the Big Seven [Canadian news-sources], except for CTV News and La Presse (not available online) who go inside, leads with the beginning of a major operation involving Canadian troops in Afghanistan codenamed “Operation Peacemaker,” taking place north of Kandahar. What The National describes as “a serious show of force” is the biggest mission yet for the Canadian contingent and involves several hundred soldiers. The Globe describes it as “a confidence-building operation” that will provide the troops greater mobility in the dangerous area, flush out Taliban fighters, build trust between the troops and local villagers. The move was spurred by intelligence reports that Taliban fighters were congregating in the mountainous region in increasing numbers, reports the Citizen; it started a few days ago and is expected to last until the end of the month.

The Citizen, the Globe, and the Star (the last two running strikingly similar pieces based on a report by the Canadian Press) note that the mission comes on the heels of several violent attacks on Canadian troops, including ambushes involving "rockets, roadside bombs and an axe attack that left a Canadian in critical condition,” writes the Citizen. Canada’s top soldier, General Rick Hillier, made a secret visit to the area to rally the troops, telling them that “you've had a tough week or so, I know. You have a tough mission, I know that, too." Hillier nonetheless reassured them that “last week [the Canadian population] really did wake up to this mission and what you are doing here.”

Popular Posts