“A role for us in Afghanistan”/Update: And a blogger’s role

A letter of mine in the Toronto Star:

Jan 19, 2009 04:30 AM
Re: No light at end of Afghan tunnel, Jan. 18
Allan Woods’ story deals with the likelihood that the new Obama administration will put pressure on Canada to continue its military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2011. I’d like to propose one approach to doing that, focused on the Canadian Air Force.
A Canadian Air Wing has just been established at Kandahar. It will have Chinook (transport) and Griffon (escort) helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance; it will also support supply flights by Hercules and C-17 transport aircraft. Why not keep the air wing at Kandahar after 2011?
And, besides the air wing, keep a provincial reconstruction team from the army, some troops to mentor the Afghan army and police, and a small unit based at Kandahar airfield to provide force protection. The primary role of the air wing would be to support our allies and the Afghans in the field.
I would imagine a maximum of some 1,500 Canadian Forces personnel would be required, down from some 2,750 now. Such a contingent would be a significant and useful contribution that would be welcomed by NATO and President Barack Obama.
Mark Collins, Ottawa

Selected as one of the LETTERS OF THE DAY in Norman’s Spectator and included under “Canadian Commentary” in Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs.
Mark C.
Update: Meanwhile there’s a role for a Canadian blogger in the country. Here’s an excerpt from the first Kandahar post by Damian Brooks, founder of The Torch (note the “ChipIn!” button on the right at the link):

…I’m sure they gripe and complain behind closed doors like every group of soldiers has since the dawn of armed conflict. Hell, I’d be worried if they didn’t. But overall, this is the most motivated, high-morale bunch of soldiers, sailors, and airmen I’ve ever been around. Believe it or not, the civvies too. More about that another time…

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