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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Jack Layton misleads Canadians... 
(en francais)

and sadly the MSM buys into it lock, stock and barrel. Layton and the NDP are engaging in hair splitting of such a minute level that an electron microscope would have a hard time distinguishing the difference.
Layton demands debate over Afghanistan mission

Updated Sun. Mar. 26 2006 11:41 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton demands an emergency debate in the House of Commons on April 5 on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan over concerns about the changing nature of the mission and the treatment of detainees.

"When the decision was made, actually in the middle of the election, that through NATO there would be a new deployment and Canadian soldiers would be sent to the south of Afghanistan, we suggested at that time it would be important to have a debate as soon as Parliament could convene," Layton told CTV's Question Period on Sunday. (emphasis added)

"We need to support our troops by making sure that we're very, very clear as Canadians what the mission is and, of course, it originally was supposed to be a NATO mission, but NATO has not taken charge yet."
Jane Taber's subsequent questioning of Jack Layton focuses on the detainee issue alone and leaves standing the supposed fact that the mission suddenly changed in December and that this is the first that Parliament learned about it. This, along with the phantom "different agreement" forms the basis of the sudden need for an emergency debate.

Prior to the government's fall, the NDP held the balance of power and it was not in their best interest to potentially side track their latest attempt to further their own agenda. An agenda that certainly did not include anything defence related.

Layton's statement leaves Canadians with the impression that the mission suddenly changed in December in a way that was never planned and this change was so radical that an immediate debate was required.

Let's look at a few things to see if this statement holds up.
Speaking Notes for the Honourable Bill Graham, P.C., M.P. Minister of National Defence at a joint session of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Ottawa, Ontario - May 16, 2005


As an example of this comprehensive approach, I am pleased to advise the committee this morning that Canada is now preparing to assume a leadership role in paving the way for a secure, democratic and self-sustaining Afghanistan.

To that end, we will be expanding the scope of our military commitment in that country.

First, we will extend the mandate of our reconnaissance squadron already in Kabul until late this year. In doing so, we will be continuing to provide the International Security Assistance Force with valuable intelligence and situational awareness capabilities and we will help facilitate the Afghan election process.

Second, we will be deploying a Provincial Reconstruction Team to the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, for a period of about eighteen months beginning in August of this year.

This team will bring together approximately 250 Canadian military personnel, civilian police, diplomats, and aid workers to provide an integrated ‘3-D effort to reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in, and around, Kandahar and to assist in the stabilization of the region. This PRT will conduct security patrols, assist local reconstruction efforts, report on governance issues, and to facilitate reforms to the security sector.

Finally, in early 2006, we will be deploying an army task force of about 700 Canadian Forces members and a brigade headquarters of approximately 300 military personnel to Kandahar for a period of between nine and twelve months. These forces will conduct operations to strengthen the security situation in the country. They will also play a key role in completing the transition from Coalition to NATO leadership in Afghanistan.

We are still working out some of the specific details of our new contribution to Afghanistan with our allies and partners and other government departments. But, colleagues, this is a significant new commitment to Afghanistan and to the international campaign against terrorism. And it demonstrates, in a real and meaningful way, our willingness to play a leadership role in the world - the goal set out in our international policy statement.
This ties in with a Nato in Afghanistan Press Factsheet
On 31 May 2005, NATO expanded ISAF into the West of Afghanistan, by taking command of four additional Provincial Reconstruction Teams, in Herat, Farah, Chagcharan and QalÂ’eh-Now and of a Forward Support Base (a logistics hub) in Herat.

In total, the Alliance now commands nine PRTs and provides security assistance in about 50% of AfghanistanÂ’s territory.

Planning continues for an expansion of ISAF into the South of the country.
If you look closely at the following high resolution map of Afghanistan, you will notice a PRT and Forward Support Base planned for Kandahar as part of a Stage 3 expansion.

Nato Map of Afghanistan ( high resolution .jpg)

Camp Julien was closed and officially handed over to the Afghanistan Military in November of 2005. This was widely reported in the media, including the fact that the Canadians were shifting operations to Kandahar to prepare for the arrival of the main Canadian task force.
News Release
Canadian Camp Julien in Kabul Closes


NR-05.098 - November 25, 2005

Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, currently the commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Edmonton, Alberta, will command the multinational brigade from its headquarters at Kandahar Airfield. The majority of headquarters personnel will be Canadian and they will deploy for a nine-month period. At the same time, Canada will also field a battle group for two successive six-month rotations, and will deploy a new rotation for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. Canada has committed to maintain the PRT for at least another year.

These deployments in February 2006 will bring Task Force Afghanistan in Kandahar to about 2,000 personnel. The mission of TFA will be to improve the security situation in southern Afghanistan, and play a key role in the transition from the U.S.-led multinational coalition to NATO leadership. In the southern provinces, this change is scheduled for the spring of 2006.
As noted above, the initial Change of Operational control was scheduled for the spring of 2006. Jack Layton's statement implies that again something has changed here without Parliament's knowledge. ("of course, it originally was supposed to be a NATO mission, but NATO has not taken charge yet.")
Backgrounder
Canadian Forces Operations in Afghanistan


BG–06.003 - February 28, 2006
The situation today

Task Force Afghanistan's mission is to improve the security situation in southern Afghanistan, and play a key role in the transition from the United States (US)-led multinational coalition (known as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM ) to NATO leadership. In the southern provinces, like the province of Kandahar, this transition is scheduled for the summer of 2006.
In actual fact, the change from US to NATO has been delayed from the spring to the summer. Not a surprising detail when you consider the logistics involved in moving the Task Force half way around the world and establishing a new command structure involving multiple nations. I wonder how many rookie NDP MPs have made their way to Ottawa and have managed to find the Parliamentary washrooms prior to drafting all the new legislation they're obviously working on.

So what did happen in December?

Revised operational plan for
NATO Â’s expanding mission in Afghanistan


On 8 December, NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed a revised Operational Plan, prepared by NATO's Military Authorities, which will guide the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to assist the Afghan Government to extend and exercise its authority and influence across the country.

The Plan addresses the tasks and challenges ISAF will face as it continues to expand its area of operations to the south and subsequently to the east of the country.

... The next stage of ISAF expansion is planned for 2006 and is known as Stage 3 Expansion, which will result in the following:

* ISAF's area of operations will be expanded to include six additional provinces: Day Kundi, Helmand , Kandahar , Nimroz, Uruzgan and Zabul (see attached map);

* Four Regional Commands will be established at: Mazar-e Sharif, Herat and Kandahar for ISAF Regions North, West and South respectively and one for the capital, Kabul;

* Four additional ISAF Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) will be created in the Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces, subject to national approval (see attached map);

* An additional Forward Support Base will be established in Kandahar (see attached map);

* Deployment of ISAF operational mentoring and liaison teams to Afghan National Army units at various levels of command. These are small groups of experienced officers and NCOs that will coach and mentor the Afghan National Army units to which they are attached;

* ISAF will be increased by up to 6,000 personnel potentially bringing the total number to approximately 15,000;

(Currently 26 Allies and 10 non-NATO countries contribute some 9,000 personnel to the operation).
That certainly sounds familiar. So what happened in December is the NATO Foreign Ministers officially endorsed the revised operational plans for Afghanistan that had been in the works since May of 2005.

What Jack Layton really doesn't want to talk about is the Take Note debate held on November 15th, 2005. That's the debate he chose not to attend. The NDP was represented in the five hour debate by MPs Bill Blaikie and Bill Siksay.
38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 150


There is no question that important progress has been made. Afghanistan is on the road to recovery. The challenge now is to ensure momentum continues. We will work with Afghanistan and our international partners to consolidate and build on the achievements of the last four years.

An example of this is the recent deployment of Canada's provincial reconstruction team to Kandahar. In order to respond to the multifaceted and complex nature of reinforcing the authority and building the capacity of the Afghan government in Kandahar, the provincial reconstruction team brings together Canadian Forces personnel, civilian police, diplomats and aid workers in an innovative and integrated Canadian effort of the three Ds of diplomacy, defence and development.

With the provincial reconstruction team and the February 2006 deployment of a 1,500 strong task force and brigade headquarters, Canada has positioned itself to play a leadership role in southern Afghanistan and provide an enabling environment for Afghanistan's institutional and economic development.
Hon. Pierre Pettigrew (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)


We can agree to being under NATO authority. That was already done in Kosovo. There may be conflicts, as in Rwanda, where we should have intervened. International law seems to be developing now in regard to the duty to protect. The Bloc Québécois is following this closely.

All of this is to say that we have an order of priorities in regard to command. The Bloc Québécois prefers the UN first and then NATO. We are very resistant to coalitions of the willing, such as is currently the case in Iraq.
Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)

Mr. Chair, I am grateful that the House has this opportunity to exchange views on the new situation for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan because it is indeed a new situation and deserves some parliamentary discussion.

What we are debating tonight is the fact that Canada has undertaken a change from its previous role in Afghanistan and is in the process of establishing what is called the provincial reconstruction team, henceforth known as PRT, in southern Afghanistan, the city of Kandahar, which involves moving the concentration of our forces from Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, to the southern city of Kandahar.

This raises a number of issues. The minister knows that this will involve more active force protection and counter-insurgency activity on the part of Canadian Forces. Our understanding is that some 1,000 plus soldiers will be deployed by February, not including members of the elite JTF2. This is a change too. I hope I will have some time to say more about this later.

There is a perception in the country that this is somehow in keeping with our traditional sort of peacekeeping role, at least our post second world war, post Korea role in world of peacekeeping. In fact, what we are doing in Afghanistan is quite different than that. I do not think the government has been fully upfront with Canadians about the difference in the rules of engagement and the difference in the situation to which Canadian troops are being sent, not only in Kabul but particularly now in Afghanistan.

This is certainly not peacekeeping. It might be called peace building, but it is more like war fighting. It is more like fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda and trying to maintain that state which has been established in the wake of the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban regime through the military activities of a coalition of the willing, of which Canada was a part. I do not think we have paid sufficient attention to the departure or the significance of the change in the role of the Canadian military that our activity in Afghanistan represents.
Hon. Bill Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)
Maybe the person Mr. Layton should be speaking with is his own MP, the Hon. Bill Blaikie. Hansard would seem to demonstrate that Mr. Blaikie had a firm grasp of the mission.

I would agree with the NDP on one thing, as stated by Mr. Blaikie. You're right, you didn't pay sufficient attention to what had been laid out before you since May and all the blustering and hair splitting in the world won't change that fact.

To anyone who has made it this far in the post, you may be wondering why bother with such a timeline? Isn't this just a simple mistake of timing and dates on Jack Layton's part, or at worst just typical political posturing? If you really think so, just keep listening to NDP statements over the next several days to see how often this is offered as reason for the debate.

A second reason is that this is not the first attempt to misrepresent certain facts about the Afghanistan mission and change Canadians perceptions.
Debatable Decision
By SHEILA COPPS
Wed, March 15, 2006

On the other hand, taking over the U.S. mission in Kandahar represents new risks that were not present when the original mission was approved by the previous Liberal cabinet.
Notice a common theme? Somehow everything changed in December and it is now up to Stephen Harper's Conservative government to explain everything. As I stated in my original post, obviously Sheila Copps must be referring to the original mission approval by Jean Chretien's cabinet, not Paul Martin's.

If we don't address these issues now, six months down the road the general opinion will be that the Liberals sent the troops over for peacekeeping, supported by the NDP. It was only when the scary Conservatives came to power that this dangerous "war-fighting" mission was approved.

Don't believe me? Try this. Ask ten people tomorrow who approved NAFTA. I bet at least 8 out of the 10 will say the Conservatives.

Paul Synnott at 7:30 AM    | en francais | Go to Top|


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