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Canadian Forces “caught by surprise” in Afghan war

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Canadian Forces have been “caught by surprise” in recent months by a dramatic shift in the Afghanistan war that has seen the Taliban melt into the civilian population and spread into a far wider area, a top officer admitted Wednesday.

Now the Taliban have dispersed among the province’s civilians and into a “multiplicity” of different districts, Cessford said in a frank assessment of the operation.

“This mission is evolving dynamically and dramatically,” he told a group of Canadian journalists. “We trained hard for a mission that did not materialize … Here you change on a dime and you have to change on a dime.”


The transformation of the conflict into a guerrilla war where combatants are one with the civilians has meant a major curb on Canadian firepower, however.

Soldiers have been able to rely much less on artillery and air strikes, and are erring on the side of caution if they are not absolutely sure a potential target is a Taliban militant, said Cessford.
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=6843ab79-e1ea-488c-85df-0413f4d54ab1&k=45178

They do sound "clueless". All the more reason to stop this farce and bring them home...
 

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Don't you just love the possible interpretations of the same info:?
Here's another take:

"Stephanie Levitz, Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2007


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian troops in Afghanistan are adapting to a rapidly-changing environment that's caught them by surprise as battle zones expanded and the enemy sought cover among civilians, the deputy Canadian commander said Wednesday.
Col. Mike Cessford said traditional planning for a well-organized, well-trained enemy dissolved as soldiers confronted a dynamic, constantly evolving reality on the ground that's challenged the way the Canadian military works.
But he insisted the Canadian Forces are getting the desired results, arguing that the Taliban are now fighting for survival.
"There are peaks and valleys, but we are seeing that we are maintaining pressure," Cessford told reporters in Kandahar.
"Does that mean the places have been cleaned of the Taliban? Absolutely not."
"But it does mean that their ability to group, their ability to plan, their ability to develop capability to inflict significant harm on us is reduced. They are focused on survival as opposed to offensive operations, and we are having an impact."
In a blunt assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, Cessford said more often than not Canadian troops are "taking the fight" to insurgents.
That's paved the way for increased development aid efforts, Cessford said, pointing to polio vaccinations campaigns and education as two growing areas of activity.
Bubbles of resistance popping up further afield are an indication that heavy fighting in the Panjwaii district and around Kandahar City last fall have forced insurgents out of heavily-populated areas, he said.
This allows the troops to move into areas that haven't traditionally seen a strong Canadian presence.
"Having established ourselves a presence among the people, we are prepared, where need be, to flex out from that development zone to allow us to disrupt and engage the Taliban before they come close to the people," he said.
"That is something we are certainly trying to achieve - to separate and shield the people from Taliban coercion."
Last year, Canadian troops focused on a 20-square-kilometre radius around Panjwaii. This season, however, will see the military and development projects move into an arc of districts north of Kandahar.
Some of the success is due to the increasing capabilities of Afghan national forces, Cessford said.
But there has been a "sea-change" in the way the Canadian military adapts to fighting a war against insurgents cloaked among civilians in cities and towns, he said.
"What changed for us is we found ourselves absolutely involved not so much in a quasi-regular conflict against well-trained and well-prepared enemy forces, we found ourselves actually conducting operations amongst the people ... we were very surprised how dynamically and dramatically things evolved."
As a result, decisions that would have taken months or years on changing ground strength are now made much faster, Cessford said.

He said the military brass as "getting it" when it comes to the realities on the ground.
The army is also far more dependent on intelligence than force when it comes flushing out enemy combatants, Cessford said. Many insurgent fighters are young, unemployed men who are opposing international forces for the excitement and the money, he said.
"The real enemy are the hard-core leadership that come into the areas, that come into the areas from afar ... and who are the ones who are intractable, who will not consider any other options but a return to the extremist Taliban rule, which was pretty brutal and pretty rough," he said.
Cessford said fighting this kind of enemy requires a restrained use of violence and the military is trying to hold back from using artillery or air power to target potential threats.
Civilian casualties are an ongoing issue in Afghanistan, with some estimates suggesting more than 1,300 people have been killed in the last 16 months.
Though history books have few examples of victory over guerrilla-like tactics, Cessford, who has a doctorate in history, is adamant that a different outcome is possible for Afghanistan.
"The odds are on our side," he said.
"This is an insurgency against an elected democratic government that has significant support, that had significant support before the Taliban came to power ... people have already seen the Taliban ... and it wasn't particularly nice."
Cessford said no matter what political decision is made in Ottawa on whether Canada will extend its mission past February of 2009, the country will always have a presence in Afghanistan.
But as the clock ticks down towards the deadline, there is also the certainty that more sacrifices will be required.
"We are seeing movement, we will see setbacks," he said. "I think unfortunately we will continue to pay a price in blood and treasure for this mission."
 

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Every Army that went to Afghanistan got their ass kicked why would Canada be exempted?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Don't you just love the possible interpretations of the same info:?
Last year the Taliban was on the run, just like the year before....
Bin Laden is still running around...
The government does not extend much past Kabul.
Reconstruction is a farce.

Yup, we are winning this one....
 

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"We can't possibly win in the Pacific Theatre of war. The Japanese have Kamikaze pilots who don't care if they live or die! Time to pull the plug, our troops can't win this fight. Bring them home."
 

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"We can't possibly win in the Pacific Theatre of war. The Japanese have Kamikaze pilots who don't care if they live or die! Time to pull the plug, our troops can't win this fight. Bring them home."
You do know the answer to that was to nuke a couple of cities. So I take it you are suggesting dropping a couple of nukes on Afghanistan?
 

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I would like to see a new law in this country that would state, if the politicians send troops into a prolonged, offensive combat mission(not peacekeeping), where there is no direct threat to Canadian soil, the politicians that have supported such a mission would have their of age children and/or closest of age eligible relatives trained and sent to the combat zone as combatants immediately upon the start of hostilities.
Then we will see some serious thinking about what is the right thing to do before these politicians start to send young men and women off to fight and die in far away wars.

G
 

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The question shouldn't be about whether we are winning the war or not (there is evidence on both sides of the argument), it should be about whether we are doing the right thing by being there.

Personally, I think we are doing the right thing. Afghanistan was a failed state that facilitated world wide terrorism. We had no choice but to respond to this threat. I don't think it is moral to go in and blow the crap out of everything and then leave. I think the West has a responsibility to install a functioning government.
 

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And your response to the families of those Canadians and others who died at the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban who harboured them, 5.5 years ago or so, would be what exactly? No threat to Canadian soil, so keep on killing?


I would like to see a new law in this country that would state, if the politicians send troops into a prolonged, offensive combat mission(not peacekeeping), where there is no direct threat to Canadian soil, the politicians that have supported such a mission would have their of age children and/or closest of age eligible relatives trained and sent to the combat zone as combatants immediately upon the start of hostilities.
Then we will see some serious thinking about what is the right thing to do before these politicians start to send young men and women off to fight and die in far away wars.

G
Ironically, this is a great description of United States' foreign policy circa 1940.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
"We can't possibly win in the Pacific Theatre of war. The Japanese have Kamikaze pilots who don't care if they live or die! Time to pull the plug, our troops can't win this fight. Bring them home."
I don't remember the being attacked by Afghanistan....

And the specious argument of we have to beat them there or they will attack us here is laughable -
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Personally, I think we are doing the right thing. Afghanistan was a failed state that facilitated world wide terrorism. We had no choice but to respond to this threat. I don't think it is moral to go in and blow the crap out of everything and then leave. I think the West has a responsibility to install a functioning government.
Hey, that's the same excuse for Iraq.....

They are plenty of "failed states". If you want to be the police of the world, you'll have to show a little aptitude...
 

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I think the West has a responsibility to install a functioning government.
So what sort of government did you have in mind? Western style democracy? In a country where every other person has an AK47, make heroin for a living, torture women for showing their face, etc...

I think the west has a responsibility to leave it the hell alone. Take in as many refugees as we can but these folks aren't done fighting and nothing that we do or say will make them stop.
 

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So if there is a burning building full of people, you just want to help those that make it out on their own, and not try and help the rest, nice.

And a little off topic but I love the "can do" attitude when it comes to saving the environment but when it comes to something that is directly affecting people now, it's not our problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
And a little off topic but I love the "can do" attitude when it comes to saving the environment but when it comes to something that is directly affecting people now, it's not our problem.
How did that little war in Vietnam work out for the Yanks?

It's hard to have a "can do" attitude when the goal is rather directionless - unless you can placing a puppet government a goal.
 

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Still great attitude, failed before so why try it now? So why are we still trying to save the environment, fight hunger in Africa, or find a cure for cancer? If we haven't done it by now, will we ever?
 

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So if there is a burning building full of people, you just want to help those that make it out on their own, and not try and help the rest, nice.
This is just plain silly. Our allies are as bad as our enemies in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance: discriminates against women, produces heroin, and is generally corrupt. The only real difference is one side is backed by the US and the other isn't.
I'd love to see a real change in Afghanistan but that is not what we are fighting for. It is time to bring the troops back home. They should have never gone there in the first place.
Part of being smart is learning from the mistakes of others. The British and the USSR already showed that controlling Afghanistan is a pipe dream. Current policy shows that real change isn't even that (a pipe dream).


edit:
If anyone actually wanted help the Afghan peoples and cut the illegal heroin trade they would use this solution:
Buy ALL the opium and channel it in to legit codeine and morphine production. This would end the shortage of legal analgesics the medical system is now facing, give Afghan opium growers a legal outlet for their product, and reduce the supply of raw opium (the starting source for heroin) going to the illegal labs. I'm sure the money spent on eradication would be more than enough to accomplish this goal.
 
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