Friday, April 11, 2008

And He Blames the Civilians?

Generalissimo Rick Hillier, the Grand Cod of Candahar,har,har, has never hesitated to fault civilian aid agencies for not doing enough reconstruction work in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. Aid workers have, in turn, said areas like Kandahar were just too dangerous for them to do any good. Now Hillier has proven the civilians were right and his complaints nothing more than self-serving, cheap shots.

Hillier has told Parliament's foreign affairs committee that everyone at NATO knew, two years ago, that the combat force fielded in Kandahar, Canada's 1,000-strong battle group, wasn't even half the minimum necessary. From the Toronto Star:

"As they were doing the assessment of force structures needed because of ... Taliban activities, it was clearly delineated that a second battalion was required in Kandahar," the chief of the defence staff told Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

As no new troop contributions were coming, Canadian military officials made a deliberate plan to limit the scope and ambition of its operations in Kandahar. Instead of tackling the province's persistent trouble spots, such as along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where Taliban fighters seek refuge, soldiers focused on strategic pockets of the province, taking essentially a village-by-village approach to the task of securing one of the most dangerous provinces.

Hillier said Canadian forces conducted operations in areas where it could be done responsibly, with success and with minimum risk to life."

So, to recap, Canada's armed forces with their tanks and artillery and air support knew they had to play Taliban Dodgeball in Kandahar but expected civilian aid agencies without tanks and artillery and air support to ignore all that and get on with the job.

Here's a question. If Canada's mission was so woefully understrength in the face of a resurgent enemy, why wasn't Hillier actually speaking up for his men and demanding reinforcements two years ago? Surely he should have been yelling at everyone who would listen that his troops were at such risk that they had to avoid his own theatre's hot spots.

Another question. When did Hillier first realize that a 1,000-strong battle group was woefully inadequate for the Kandahar mission and why did he recommend that strength force in the first place?

While many Canadians have been fawning all over Hillier, I never saw what they did in the guy. To me he was always more grandstanding politician than military leader and I think that's becoming more obvious by the day.


Anonymous said...

Don't insult the fishermen of this country by calling Hillier a "Grand Cod".

The Mound of Sound said...

I hear you. I suppose the fish can't be too happy about it either. Apologies all round.