The Canadian govenment is confronted with the reality it must require longer deployments for its soldiers in Kandahar province in Afghanistan as the military struggles to find sufficient bodies to cover the needs of fighting in that faraway land. The Canadian mission has been extended for at least two more years. At present there are 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan and they probably will be compelled to remain there at least into 2011. Defence Minister Peter MacKay says Canada has an effective infantry force of about 5,000 which means half will be deployed to Afghanistan for the forseeable future.
Canada currently has its soldiers serve for six months in Afghanistan and then return home for about a month. This policy has upset American military leaders who believe short term deployments impair the ability of a fighting force to accomplish its job. American soldiers serve 15 month tours which allows them more time to build relationships with local leaders and become familiar with local needs.
Canadian miiltiary and civilian leaders are concerned about the effect on morale of its fighting men and women. There is no question fighting in Afghanistan has strained Canadian resources to the limit.
Lost in discussions about length of tours is the larger question as does anyone have a long range plan as to what should be accomplished in Afghanistan? Rhetoric about “victory” are words tossed around without any explanation as to their meaning. What would constitute “victory in Afghanistan?” Is it a military or a political victory? Or, does it entail both?