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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Canadians to lead in instructing the Afghan Army

This is a good news story out of Kandahar as the Canadian Forces can help bring their ideals of leadership, discipline and the profession of arms to a new generation of Afghan Soldiers.

A program likes this honours the wounded and fallen and all those that have served in helping free the Afghan people from tyranny.

Afghan Commander speaks with Canadian soldiers
Lt-Col Sakhi Barriz, 2 Kandak Afghan National Army Commanding Officer points out the axis of advance during Operation SHER II, the biggest-ever ANA lead operation partnered with Canadian Forces

Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News · Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two senior Canadian generals are to oversee critical multi-billion dollar training programs that NATO hopes will lead to Afghan security forces taking over the lead from alliance forces by the end of 2014.
“That is an incredible compliment to Canada,” one of the officers, Maj-Gen. Stu Beare, said in a telephone interview from his police training headquarters in Kabul.
Maj-Gen. Beare has run police training for the alliance since last fall. Some time in April or May he is to be joined on the army side of NATO’s training house by Maj.-Gen. Mike Day, who until a few days ago oversaw Canada’s secretive special forces.
Maj.-Gen. Day will wear two hats as he will also lead a contingent of as many as 950 Canadian soldiers that Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided last November will continue Ottawa’s military participation in Afghanistan as trainers to assist Afghan forces in the north of the country.
Those Canadian trainers are to replace a much larger combat force that is leaving Kandahar in five months. Unlike those fighting troops, the trainers will not be operating ‘outside the wire.’ They are to be embedded alongside trainers from 33 countries within existing training centres and academies run by NATO, at Afghanistan’s security ministries and army and police headquarters and at the alliance’s training headquarters in Kabul.
There have been few details released yet about Canada’s new mission and when it might begin. Although the timeline had not yet been decided, Maj.-Gen. Beare said “we are hoping it is sooner rather than later. They are urgently needed.”
Asked why it was taking so long to clarify what Canadian trainers would be doing and where, he replied: “It is a lot easier to find places for a dozen (soldiers) than for 900 plus ... They will be doing many different missions. Some will be in one place. Some will be in more than one place. It will have a lot of different components.”
A group from National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa visited Kabul last month to learn what NATO’s specific requirements were. They have given their recommendations to senior commanders who were now in the process of “developing options to present to the government,” Maj.-Gen. Beare said.
“We (NATO) have shown people what we need across the board. There is a huge need in the army and a significant need in the police.”
Whatever formation the Harper cabinet approved, the career artillery officer said that he was “pretty confident ... we will be able to implement it as soon as Canada can generate the troops. We have needs that are immediate. We will accommodate anything. We’ll adapt. This is a good problem because we will be getting high quality in big numbers.”
Canada is set to become the second largest contributor to the training mission after the United States, in a move that will boost the number of military trainers to nearly 5,000.
“Bringing 900 more professionals is a huge uplift,” Beare said. “It will give us much more capacity. And the Canadians are second to none. The impact that they are going to have is huge ...”
“The vast majority will be from the army and will be put in with the army.”
All NATO’s training programmes had “gaps” that Canada could help fill, he said.
“The requirement is often for specialties. There are positions at headquarters to install communications (as well as for) combat engineers, aviation techs, doctors, financial officers, infantry. During the last year we were infantry-centric. We also now need logistics, signals and finance people who can teach how to sustain an army in the field.”
While the U.S. directed 30,000 troops into Afghanistan last year, Afghan security forces had grown by 77,000 during the same period, Beare noted.
The Afghan police were on target to have 134,000 members by November, he said, adding that by the end of the year 4,000 more policemen were to be deployed in Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province.

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