Eggleton confirms Canadian troops operating in Afghanistan

Members of Canada's elite JTF2 commano unit are operating in Afghanistan.

For the first time Defence Minister Art Eggleton is offering some details about the use of Joint Task Force Two.

JTF-2 is Canada's top secret commando unit. Its members are the first Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

Eggleton spoke to CBC News from Brussels where he's attending a meeting of NATO defence ministers and confirmed Canadians are now in the war zone.

"There are approximately 40 JTF-2 on the ground in Afghanistan, in or around Kandahar," he said.

Eggleton won't say why they are in Kandahar, nor will he say what they will be doing there. "I can't tell you too much what kind of mission they will be involved with. I can tell you though that they are an assault troop, or commandos if you like, they are there in support of the Afghan forces."

JTF-2 is Canada's counter-terrorism unit. It is trained in all kinds of combat and the use of special weapons. This is the first time JTF-2 has been deployed outside of Canada.

Eggleton says he wants to reveal as much information as possible without compromising safety. "We've been feeling our way through it and determining what is appropriate to be able to divulge, and also including what our allies are saying," he said.

The interim leader of the Canadian Alliance John Reynolds, says 40 JTF-2 is a small contribution, too small.

"It's a needle in a haystack compared to what other countries are doing. Great Britain is sending hundreds and hundreds ... we're not holding up our end."

Reynolds says sending only 40 commandos shows a lack of money and commitment. However the Defence Department points out that JTF-2 was given a boost in the budget and that money will be used to double the size of the unit, which right now has about 250 soldiers.