Canadian soldiers headed to Kabul told not to expect danger pay
Richard Madan, CTV News
Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014 10:03PM EDT
At least sixteen Canadian soldiers who are being deployed to Kabul for a special mission next month have been told not to expect danger pay, despite frequent attacks in the Afghan capital, CTV News has learned.
The troops assigned to Operation Addenda will provide security to the Canadian embassy in Kabul, and protect the Ambassador and staff, but they have been told not to expect any danger pay during the six-month mission.
Critics say the move doesn’t make sense, given the increasing violence in Kabul. Last month, an attack on a luxury hotel in the city killed nine people, including two Canadian women.
“If there's no danger, you wouldn't be sending (troops) at all,” said Jack Harris, NDP’s national defence critic.
“If there's danger, you should be recognizing it with pay danger pay. I don’t know who makes these decisions. They're not thinking logically.”
Friends and family say it’s a frustrating situation for soldiers who are “in danger no matter where they go in Afghanistan.”
“They’re going with no support,” said one woman who gave her name as Rachelle.
The Department of National Defence told CTV that the amount of danger pay allowances is “continuously reviewed” by a panel of experts who analyze the risks of each deployment.
The department later confirmed the panel, called the Hardship and Risk Committee, will meet Wednesday to re-assess the threat level on the latest Kabul mission, which could result in a change in pay.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson has the power to make the pay upgrades, but his staff says he will wait until the panel makes its recommendation, and that could take about a week.
That same panel decided to slash danger pay for about 930 troops who were on a training mission in Afghanistan a year ago. Each soldier was to receive roughly $500 less per month, but the Harper government quickly reversed the decision.
This time around, there are fears that Western embassies in Afghanistan could become targets amid heightened tensions following recent elections in the war-ravaged country. Soldiers guarding the embassy compounds would be the first line of defence.
“This is their job,” said Rachelle. “They have to do it no matter what.”
The 16 troops are scheduled to deploy in early May, which coincidentally, is around the same time Afghan war veterans will be celebrated on the National Day of Honour on Parliament Hill.