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Cablegate: No Room for Doubt: All Canadian Troops Out of Afghanistan By

VZCZCXRO1540
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHQU RUEHSL
DE RUEHOT #0940/01 3431546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091545Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0142
INFO ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000940

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS AF CA
SUBJECT: NO ROOM FOR DOUBT: ALL CANADIAN TROOPS OUT OF AFGHANISTAN BY
DECEMBER 2011

REF: OTTAWA 906; 08 OTTAWA 373

1. (SBU) Summary: In testimony to Parliament on December 8, Chief
of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Walter Natynczyk confirmed that,
in accordance with a March 2008 parliamentary motion, no Canadian
Forces - apart from a military attache in Kabul - or military
equipment will remain in Afghanistan after December 31, 2011. He
indicated that there was no ambiguity in the Canadian Forces' or
Government of Canada's position on the end of a military mission in
Afghanistan after that date. Defence Minister Peter MacKay
separately informed the House of Commons of this determination on
December 7. Media attention has been surprisingly scant, focused
more heavily on allegations of torture of Afghan detainees
transferred by Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities (ref a). End
summary.

2. (U) CDS General Walter Natynczyk, Major General Mark McQuillan
(Commander of the Canadian Operational Support Command), and Lt.
General J.G.M. Lessard (Commander of the Canadian Expeditionary
Force Command) briefed the House of Commons' National Defence
Committee on December 8 regarding preparations for the withdrawal
of Canadian Forces (CF) from Afghanistan in 2011, as mandated by a
bipartisan parliamentary motion that the House of Commons passed in
March 2008 (ref b). The generals testified at the invitation of
the Committee.

JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS

3. (U) General Natynczyk noted that the Government of Canada had
provided "clear instructions" in the 2008 parliamentary motion. He
stated categorically that the CF combat mission in Kandahar would
end on July 31, 2011 and that CF would cease all operations and
leave Afghanistan by the end of December 2011. He added that "the
Government of Canada clearly told me that this was the end of the
military mission in uniform." He confirmed that the cessation of
operations would include all military members of the Canadian
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar as well as
military trainers. General Natynczyk indicated that Canadian PRTs
would remain after 2011, but would be exclusively civilian teams,
including representation from Foreign Affairs (DFAIT), Royal
Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA), Correctional Services Canada, and other agencies.

4. (U) When pressed, Natynczyk acknowledged the possibility that
one CF member might remain in Afghanistan after December 2011 -- as
a military attach???? at Canada's Embassy in Kabul -- but, otherwise,
underscored that "we will be true to that [parliamentary] motion...
this is the mandate we have received... this is how we interpret
the mission." He insisted that "this is the end of the military
mission."

PLANNING FOR A SEAMLESS TRANSITION

5. (U) General Natynczyk explained that Canada's objective will be
to achieve a "seamless transition" to NATO allies and partners in
Kandahar in 2011. He stated that the wrap up of the mission --
Canada's largest military deployment since the Korean War --
represented "significant" and "daunting" logistical challenges to
tackle in an organized and sequenced manner. He highlighted that
Canada has more than 1,200 military vehicles in Afghanistan, as
well as "several thousands" of sea containers of "stuff" that the
CF will need to repatriate. Although he confirmed that planning for
withdrawal had already begun, he insisted that the CF will remain
focused on the combat mission in the next 18 months, and fully
intends to fulfill NATO and ISAF obligations over the next two
years.

6. (U) Under questioning, General Natynczyk acknowledged that
present guidance provided by the Government of Canada on
Afghanistan could change, underscoring that the CF "live on fact
and we live on orders." However, he insisted that "I can't wait

OTTAWA 00000940 002 OF 002


for changes." He confirmed that he had issued an initial planning
order in August, that Lt. General Lessard had followed up with an
initial planning guideline in September, and that next steps
included consultations with ISAF partners in RC-South. Lt. General
Lessard confirmed that a CF reconnaissance team was already on the
ground in Afghanistan to plan the coordination of the return of
materiel to Canada, as well as disposal, donation, and sale of
equipment, and transportation. Lt. General Lessard added that in
the final five months of 2011, Canada would focus on repatriating
personnel and materiel to Canada.

GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY ON THE SAME PAGE

7. (U) Separately, National Defence Minister Peter MacKay on
December 7 provided a formal response to a written question in the
House of Commons from the Liberal Party Defence Critic on Canada's
post-2011 plans in Afghanistan. Minister MacKay confirmed that
"the Department of National Defence has not developed contingencies
for the extension of the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan
beyond 2011." He added that DND had not devoted any ministerial
resources to planning for the extension, acquired major materials
to facilitate any contingency for the extension, nor taken any
specific measures to prepare human resources in the CF for an
extension of the military mission, "as the Chief of the Defence
Staff had issued direction to redeploy Canadian Forces from
Afghanistan in accordance with the parliamentary motion on
Afghanistan of March 13, 2008."

8. (SBU) Comment; CDS Natynczyk provided a candid and forthright
briefing, whose clarity at times appeared to take opposition
members of the Defence Committee by surprise. The CDS' strict
adherence to the terms of the parliamentary motion left opposition
members little opportunity to question the federal government's
commitment to ending Canada's military role in Afghanistan in 2011.
General Natynczyk and his team left no room for ambiguity. As
opposition members of the Committee greeted him informally after
the briefing, the CDS asked each in turn "Was I clear? Was that
clear enough for you?" The briefing did not include discussion of
a civilian or development role. Surprisingly, the briefing -- and
MacKay's December 7 statement in the House -- drew scant media
coverage, as media focus continued to turn on alleged torture
Afghan detainees transferred by the CF to Afghan authorities (a
subject on which Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon and Defence
Minister MacKay will testify at the House of Commons' Special
Committee on Afghanistan on December 9).
JACOBSON

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