Afghan instability lingers as Canadian troops look to next mission

Approximately 35 members of the Canadian Armed Forces returned home as part of the final commitment...

Approximately 35 members of the Canadian Armed Forces returned home as part of the final commitment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan at the Shell AeroCentre at the Edmonton International Airport on Friday, December 13, 2013. (TREVOR ROBB/QMI Agency Files)

Trevor Robb, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:15 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Canada’s military commitment to Afghanistan may have ended, but terrorism in the war-torn nation continues.

Less than a week after all but about 20 Canadian troops returned home, Taliban forces launched an offensive attack on the heavily fortified Serena hotel in Kabul last Tuesday. Gunmen killed nine people, including two Canadian women and a National Democratic Institute (NDI) observer.

The NDI and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were brought into the area to oversee the country’s upcoming election, slated for April 5.

Observers from both the NDI and the OSCE have now been pulled from the area and sent to Turkey.

While the situation in the nation’s capital becomes increasingly unstable, close to 20 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members remain in Kabul lending security support to the Canadian Embassy.

“While it is impossible to eliminate all danger, CAF personnel are well trained and prepared to deal with risks associated with their service in a particular operational theatre,” said Daniel Le Bouthillier, spokesperson with the Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND).

Immediately following the attack, Kabul pointed the finger of blame at Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

“We are aware of the allegations that Pakistan was involved in the attack, and these allegations are very troubling if true,” said Béatrice Fénelon, spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

Adding to the unrest, a group of five militants, including two suicide bombers who successfully blew themselves up, stormed an election office in Kabul this week. However, a five-hour gunfight with security forces — many of whom have been trained by Canadian troops, including those from Edmonton Garrison — resulted in the deaths of all five militants.

Canada will provide $330 million between 2015 and 2017 to help sustain those Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

The ability for the ANSF to properly protect themselves was the cornerstone of the CAF’s final mission in Afghanistan, Operation ATTENTION, where troops trained the ANSF for the last several years as part of the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A).

Major General (Ret’d) Lewis Mackenzie has been out of the CAF for 22 years now but toured Afghanistan four times with trips as recent as 2005, just before CAF forces moved south to Kandahar.


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