Friday, December 15, 2006
A Major NATO Development Mission in Panjwai
NATO forces, together with Afghan army units, are massing in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province for... well for what isn't exactly clear.
While the force was under the command of Canadian General David Fraser, the focus was mainly on combat missions against the Taliban. Fraser's Dutch replacement, Maj-Gen. Ton Van Loon, wants to put more effort into reconstruction and infrastructure projects.
“The main aim of Operation Baaz Tsuka is to work together with tribal elders and district leaders to provide vital assistance and targeted development directly to the people of Zahre and Panjwaii districts,” said Maj.-Gen. Ton Van Loon, head of Regional Command-South for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Tribal elders and district leaders were extensively consulted in the buildup to the operation, which was planned jointly by Afghan security forces and ISAF, Van Loon said.
A report in the Toronto Star quotes Canadian commander, Lt.-General Mike Gauthier, as saying the Canadian force will have to make do with its existing force which he said is undermanned for the task of controlling Kandahar province.