Friday, November 20, 2009

What's Next for Kanadahar?

Current Task Force Kandahar (TFK) Commander, Brigadier General Jonathan Vance, greets the incoming TFK Commander, Brigadier General Daniel Ménard, upon his arrival at the Kandahar Airfield,Photo: Master Corporal Angela Abbey, DND.

Canadian Forces Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard took over Task Force Afghanistan from Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance, Thursday, November 18, in a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield. Brig.-Gen. Menard told reporters that he was awaiting direction from "higher headquarters" regarding what may unfold in the coming months.

"We are going to receive more troops. It is complex because in certain cases they come from different parts of Afghanistan or from the United States. There could be as many as four other units attached to Task Force Afghanistan."

When this completed "it will be a huge brigade," he said. "To tell you the truth, it is a Canadian-U.S. brigade. That is how it is known. Those troops are under my command and I have full authority to manoeuvre them and do whatever needs to be done."

Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard, who commands all Canadian forces overseas met with NATO/ISAF Commander, US Gen. Stanley McChrystal earlier in the week in Kabul. Gen. McChrystal commands NATO's more than 100,000 International Security and Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan.

Lt-Gen. Lessard said, "Everyone who know Afghanistan knows that Kandahar is the hub in the South. He who controls the South controls the insurgency and counter-insurgency. Kandahar City and its approaches is the vital ground for ISAF."

Among the plans under consideration were to return Arghandab, which lies just north of Kandahar City, to Canadian control again, as it had been until a U.S. army Stryker battalion took over there three months ago.

All of this hinges on the much delayed decision by the Obama administration as to whether or not he will grant Gen. McChrystal the troop increase that he has requested. If a troop increase is granted Gen. McChrystal is intent on beefing up security in Kandahar, which is the Taliban heartland.