Feds weigh non-combat role in Afghanistan after 2011
Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief
Published Sunday, November 7, 2010 10:34AM EST
OTTAWA - Canada will end its combat mission as scheduled in July 2011, but some Canadian soldiers will move to Kabul to train Afghan troops, senior officials tell CTV.
Officials stress these soldiers will carry out behind-the-wire training and will not be engaged in any kind of combat.
The final decision has not been taken, but using Canadian troops as trainers is one of three options under consideration by cabinet, officials say.
The other two options for a post-combat mission are continued Canadian aid as well as development that includes infrastructure and promoting governance in a nation beset by corruption.
The prime minister's communications director confirmed the options are on the table.
"We have been clear the combat mission will end and Canadian troops will come home but we will consider the options of aid, development and behind-the-wire training in a non-combat role. All options are in a non-combat role," Dimitri Soudas told CTV.
Officials say the government has briefed the Liberal Party on the options in an effort to develop a bipartisan consensus. The Liberals have advocated that Canada remain in Afghanistan in a non-combat role after the 2011 pullout.
Since July, the prime minister has faced increased pressure from the United States and other NATO allies to keep combat troops in Kandahar.
Sources suggest that the cabinet will likely approve all three options of training, aid and development.
Harper will outline the Canadian position to a NATO leaders meeting later this month.