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Cablegate: Former Canadian Kandahar Commander Makes Case for Afghan

VZCZCXRO6917
OO RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0439 3061857
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021857Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2241
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0006
RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0006

UNCLAS TORONTO 000439

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAN, SCA/A, and EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS PGOV PREL PTER CA AF
SUBJECT: FORMER CANADIAN KANDAHAR COMMANDER MAKES CASE FOR AFGHAN
MISSION


Sensitive but Unclassified - please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Speaking before the Toronto-based Canadian Institute for
International Affairs on November 2, Major General Tim Grant,
recently returned from a stint as commander of Canadian Forces
troops in Afghanistan, encouraged patience and highlighted progress
in Canada's mission in Afghanistan. Grant, while refusing to
comment directly on when the Canadian troops could be withdrawn,
encouraged a long-term view of the Afghanistan mission.

2. (SBU) Grant compared the Canadian-led "Operation Medusa" in the
fall of 2006, with recent fighting in areas to the north of Kandahar
as a measure of progress. During "Medusa," Canadian troops fought
without Afghan assistance against nearly 2,000 well armed and
motivated Taliban fighters. In the last few months, many combat
engagements have been led by Afghan National Army (ANA) troops
against far fewer and less enthusiastic Taliban. Grant attributed
this success to Canadian programs which paid potential Taliban
fighters a living wage to engage in manual labor and restore
irrigation infrastructure in the Kandahar area. Grant also
highlighted the important role of civilian agencies such as the
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in building
civilian governance capacity in the region.

3. (SBU) Though generally positive in his assessment of the Afghan
military, Grant termed Afghan police a "basket case." He pointed to
efforts by Corrections Canada in improving prison conditions (a
controversial issue in the Canadian press) and measures to bring
police salaries in line with ANA compensation as indicators that
Canada and coalition forces were beginning to get a firmer handle on
policing issues. Grant highlighted RCMP "in-service" refresher
training to Afghan police as critical to longer-term success.

4. (SBU) Grant deflected questions about timelines for an eventual
Canadian withdrawal but predicted that the ANA would be able to
function independently on a tactical level by 2009. Strategic
components of the Afghan military, such as airlift capability and
command and staff training, will likely require outside assistance
for the foreseeable future, he said.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Grant's presentation to a largely friendly
audience was designed to highlight the progress Canada has made in
the Kandahar region. Beyond oblique suggestions that much Canadian
media coverage was not appropriately positive, Grant wisely refused
to engage on the controversial questions such as withdrawal
timelines, NATO burden-sharing, or human rights abuses in Afghan
prisons. END COMMENT.

NAY

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