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No Security Without Combat

No Security Without Combat

The debate on Canada's role in Afghanistan rages on.  Ruxted would be prepared to accept arguments that Canada needs to wind down its battle group between November 2009 and August 2010 in order to ensure forces are available for the February Olympics. So far, we have not heard that.  Sadly, it still seems the debate revolves around fantastic misconceptions about the provision of security and the reality of the threat in Afghanistan.

"The military forces of Canada have a role to play after February 2009 — even though it's not combat, it will be for security," Dion told reporters Sunday the 13th of January 2008.  Ruxted finds this position particularly worrisome as it suggests a continued naivety despite Mr. Dion's visit to Afghanistan.  Even the classical peacekeeping, of which Canadians take as a source of pride, required Canadian troops to engage in combat in places such as Cyprus and Bosnia.  Combat aversion is the sort of half-measure that was responsible for the atrocity of Rwanda.

Fortunately, Mr Dion may be on to the right idea but it is not what he thinks.  Three days after his first comment, Mr.Dion observed, "The war against terrorism is mainly a police matter."  Here in Canada, people would not accept if police only arrested criminals that they caught in the act.  There is an expectation that, in the provision of public security, the police will conduct investigations and go after the "evil doers."  At the same time, police have tactical units capable of responding to the armed and aggressive threat.  So, how do we provide security in Afghanistan without doing the same?

Here in Canada, organized crime does not make a business of hunting the police but in Afghanistan that is what the threat does.  In Canada, organized crime does not attempt to seize political control (even local control of municipalities) by armed force but the threat in Afghanistan does.  In Afghanistan, the armed and aggressive threat is insurgent militias.  In this environment, the “typical police patrol car” might look like an infantry platoon and the emergency response team may resemble a combat team or special forces.

The combat mission is essential to the success of Afghanistan.  In its absence, everything else is only a half measure.


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J. McLean on :

Even the classical peacekeeping, of which Canadians take as a source of pride, required Canadian troops to engage in combat in places such as Cyprus and Bosnia. Combat aversion is the sort of half-measure that was responsible for the atrocity of Rwanda.

Canadian combat operations on Cyprus and even in Bosnia were in no way comparable to those in Afghanistan, and "Ruxted" (whomever that is) should be ashamed of distorting his (its) message with such a blatant falsehood. Canadian combat operations in the former case were neither prolonged nor of an offensive nature such as those characterized by the battle groups in Afghanistan whose mandate is clearly warfighting. While any fool knows that an effective peacekeeper is a soldier trained for war, comparisons between Medak Pocket and the Whaleback or Operation MEDUSA are illusory and only cloud the issue. If "Ruxted" wishes to maintain the same credibility that it keeps accusing the media of lacking, perhaps it needs to keep things straight for itself? At the very least, Ruxted should avoid trying to hard to make a point.

Stating that troops in Cyprus or Bosnia were actively seeking combat is trying too hard to make a point; they were not. Our soldiers in Afghanistan, conversely, are. In the former case, it was not their job, in the latter, it certainly is.

One expects "Ruxted" is trying to be clever by using "combat aversion" as a substitute for "coward", but Dion, too, is simply doing his job as the Opposition - presenting opposite viewpoints and challenging the government. Prime Minister Harper's excellent appointment of Liberale John Manley to the Afghanistan Commission should allay any concerns that Dion's comments would be taken seriously, as if his non-sensical coments on Pakistan haven't already done that.

But suggesting cowardice for wishing to avoid combat makes no sense either; especially in light of the fact that Manley's commission has stated that unless our NATO allies (read: Europeans) chip in and start to contribute (and as General Mackenzie points out, there are millions of soldiers sitting on hands throughout NATO right now), it would prudent for Canada to make it known that we will no longer shoulder these burdens in isolation. If Canada simply announces that we will roll over and do NATO's bidding regardless of cost, we do ourselves, and our soldiers a disservice - so in that regard, Mr. Dion serves a very useful function. Cowardice has nothing to do with it, nor do very silly comparisons to Cyprus.


J. McLean,
You seem to be side-stepping what Ruxted has written. There is not claim that Canadians conducted deliberate attacks in Bosnia (though Canadians were advancing at Medak). Ruxted has simply presented the fact that combat was required in Peacekeeping mission. It happens whether Canadian soldiers go looking for it or not.

Also, I saw no mention of cowardice in the article. I think this is your red herring to draw attention away from what you realize is a fact: the atrocities in Rwanda could have been prevented by the application of deliberate combat power.

Thucydides on :

J. McLean is leaning a little too far forward here; Canadian troops who served in Cyprus and Bosnia (like I have) were not "seeking" combat, but were well aware that it could happen to us regardless of our intentions. As an old adage says, "In war, the enemy gets a vote".

As for Opposition politicians, while you are correct in stating what their intended role should be, I have yet to see any of the opposition leaders (or even political party leaders who have no seats) presenting any coherent viewpoints at all. Never once do they suggest viable alternatives to the current mission, nor do they ever consider what their plans would mean to the Afghan people or Canada's reputation in the world should we as a nation follow their paths.

Bruce Monkhouse on :

No where did Ruxted state that they were "seeking combat", just that it was required.

Try a reread.

E.R. Campbell on :

The only "distortion" is yours, J. McLean.

"Ruxted" (of which I am part - as the web site clearly states) said Canadian troops were required to engage in combat in Bosian and Cyprus; you, trying to be clever, turned that into "actively seeking combat." You twisted our words to try to make your point; I think you failed.

As far as being "silly" goes: our NATO allies are not just the Europeans. One of our NATO allies is the USA which, just as Manley was going to press, announced it is sending 3,000+/- Marines to Afghanistan, to RC(S).

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