U.S. troops will have big impact on Afghan mission: Canadian commander
The imminent arrival of 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan will have a "dramatic effect" on the ability of Taliban insurgents to operate around the porous border with Pakistan, the commander of the Canadian mission in Kandahar says.
The new U.S. soldiers will be deployed in Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand province, Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance said Thursday.
"That will have a dramatic effect on the insurgency's capacity to move across the border easily and will have a complementary effect, therefore, on our own operations," Vance said at a news conference at CFB Petawawa in Ontario. The event was attended by representatives of the government, military and civilian agencies to discuss Canada's mission in Afghanistan.
A March agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan focusing on improving security along the border is another sign of progress, said David Mulroney, the deputy minister of Canada's Afghanistan Task Force, also speaking in Petawawa.
The deal, brokered by Canada in Dubai, identifies customs, movement of people, counter-narcotics and law enforcement as priorities.
The long-term goal of the agreement, Mulroney said, is to "have people think of the border as an economic corridor, something positive, rather than a porous threat to both countries."
The border has been a source of tension between the neighbours for generations — most recently with back-and-forth movements by insurgents.
U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of the 17,000 soldiers to the embattled country by the summer, in time for the increase in fighting that usually comes with warmer weather and ahead of national elections in August.
He is also sending an extra 4,000 troops to train Afghanistan's military and police forces, as well as substantially increase civilian aid efforts.
Canada has about 2,750 troops serving in the volatile province of Kandahar.