Unfinished work in Afghanistan

It is now clear Canada’s next foreign military mission will be training Afghanistan’s military and police. But we also will be continuing our role in helping the population reconstruct a nation.
It was part of Canada’s original mandate that morphed into a full-fledged battle group based in Kandahar.
The battle group was a departure from the non-confrontational peacekeeping missions that had been part of Canada’s history that began with the United Nations’ involvement in the Korean War.
We like to see ourselves as policemen, maintaining peace between two opposing factions, but even on many of our missions around the world, some of our peacekeepers have died as I was reminded listening to “Cross-Country Check Up” on CBC on Sunday.
Our soldiers, police officers, airmen, and seamen have been involved in crises in Cyprus, the Middle East, Haiti, Bosnia, the Congo, Cambodia, Vietnam, El Salvador, Somalia, Rwanda, and Angola, to name a few.
We continue to have troops in countries besides Afghanistan, and we also have NGOs that provide services to nations and people throughout the world.
When Canada asked former Liberal Cabinet minister John Manley to do an independent review of Canada’s role in Afghanistan, he returned with a recommendation that after 2011, Canada would have to continue to provide aid and assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
“Canadian objectives in Afghanistan are both honourable and achievable,” the Manley Report stated.
Its panel members went on to say that “the aim there is not to create some fanciful model of prosperous democracy. Canadian objectives are more realistic: to contribute, with others, to a better governed, stable, and developing Afghanistan whose government can protect the security of the country and its people.”
With the expected withdrawal date next July looming, more have asked what Canada’s role will be. Defence minister Peter McKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have now explained that we will be trainers.
The risks to our soldiers will be reduced, but not eliminated. Canada will maintain 950 soldiers in Afghanistan and they will be spread about the country.
Our forces have had success in that country. Journalists, who worked outside the safety of military bases in Sunday’s radio broadcast, spoke that residents of the country were well aware of the contributions of Canada’s military forces and government assistance to the country.
They had hoped that Canada would stay.
Our Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust has rebuilt schools, and trained judges, lawyers, and police officials. Our government programs have assisted in health-related initiatives such as immunization of children to eliminate polio and the donation of medical supplies.
Our nation committed to repairing the Dahla Dam and irrigation system, which will secure water to the majority of Kandahar’s population and stimulate agriculture and economic growth.
The United Nations has recognized Canada’s nation-building work in Afghanistan, as have the people of the country. To abandon the work that our soldiers and government officials have put in place would be disastrous.
We have unfinished work. We have schools left to build, teachers to train, court workers to develop, and a nation of people who can be free to choose the type of government that they wish to be led by.

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