That's the good news. Sometime in the years ahead, we'll turn around the inroads made by the Taliban lately, at least according to Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, the head of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, or CEFCOM, after several days of meetings with military and political leaders in Afghanistan.
The bad news is that 2009 is shaping up to be the worst year ever for Canadian troops in Kandahar.
“I think in the early going, with the large influx of U.S. troops, there will be more violence, just as there was more violence this year compared to last year because we have twice the number of combat troops,” Gauthier said.
“I fully expect the insurgents will come out in force in 2009 and we will come out in force in 2009 and there will be violence and there will be a higher level of violence than there was in 2008.”
Who knows, maybe Gauthier is right. Maybe his forecast isn't like the constant flow of drivel we've been fed by every other Canadian general before him.
We can hope that the arrival of heavy-lift helicopters, the Chinooks, will reduce our troops' casualties from roadside bombs but we'll have to wait to see what tactical approach the US and ISAF will follow next year.
The big question is whether our forces will move to wrest control of the central highway out of insurgent hands. That is Afghanistan's essential lifeline. Retaking stretches of that road is relatively easy. Show up with overwhelming firepower and force the insurgents to steal away to safety. The problem is where you find enough troops and enough supplies for those troops to secure the road once you've cleared it. If you clear it and leave and the insurgents come back, you've accomplished virtually nothing.
It's been reported that the American reinforcements won't even be going into the field to take the fight to the insurgency. Instead they're earmarked to be deployed in defence of the capital, Saigon, er Kabul. That's right, we're doing so well that trying to hold the capital is the first priority.
But don't worry. We've nearly got them on the run, almost, and you can expect a real turnaround any year now.