Military will stick to 2011 exit date: Natynczyk
Canada's top soldier won't speculate on whether Canadian Forces members should provide training services to Afghan forces after their combat mission ends.
Speaking with reporters on Monday morning, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk was asked to describe what role Canadian soldiers might take in Afghanistan after their combat role ends in July of next year.
Natynczyk said that while he was "really pleased" with what the Canadian Forces is accomplishing in Afghanistan, the military will be sticking to the plan outlined by Parliament.
"From the Government of Canada through to the minister to me, it's clearly a focus on enabling the motion as it stands today and that is the withdrawal from Kandahar in 2011 and the end of the military mission," Natynczyk told reporters in Ottawa.
"So, right now that's what we're doing and we're focusing on making progress today, tomorrow, next week and next month. I just focus on the mission as given and that is to fulfill the mandate that the government has given to the Canadian Forces."
Beyond that, Natynczyk said he "wouldn't go into any kind of speculation" as to whether Canada could potentially provide training services to Afghan forces and police.
Natynczyk made his comments while speaking to reporters alongside U.S. Adm. James Winnefeld, the new NORAD commander who is making his first visit to Canada today.
With Canada's exit date just over a year away, questions are being raised as to whether the Canadian Forces should continue to be involved in the Afghan theatre. NATO has made persistent calls for Canada to provide training services.
An all-party House of Commons committee recently signalled that it could explore keeping Canadian soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan to provide training for local troops and police officers.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the committee's concept was "interesting," but in the same breath said the government would be moving ahead with the parliamentary resolution to end the military mission next year.
"We're working according to the parliamentary resolution that was adopted in 2008, by which Canada's military mission will end and will transition to a civilian and development mission at the end of 2011," Harper said Friday.
With files from The Canadian Press