28 July 2007

Afghanistan Minus Canada Equals Chaos

According to the top RCMP official in Afghanistan, the country will backslide into anarchy without proper training from Canadian and other international police forces.

Afghanistan is in the "middle of an insurgency" and countries, including Canada, that are rebuilding it shouldn't make a hasty exit, says the RCMP officer helping train Afghan police recruits.
The war-torn country risks going backward if international forces leave before it's self-sufficient, said RCMP Supt. David Fudge. Fudge is a police officer with 30 years of experience and his job is to help train Afghan police recruits who are often illiterate and arrive in tattered clothes and flip-flops. He has been on the job in Afghanistan for a year as part of Canada's provincial reconstruction team, a multi-level unit that includes soldiers, police officers and officials from Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency. "Afghanistan is in the middle of an insurgency," Fudge said in an interview at the unit's headquarters, about 18 kilometres from the multinational base in Kandahar.

Establishing a viable police force in Afghanistan is one of the top priorities for the international reconstruction and stabilization mission. It will go a long way in establishing sovereignty and legitimacy for the Karzai government, and lessen the country's dependence on regional warlords who are often involved in shady activities that undermine the coherence of the Afghan state. Drug trafficking remains a major problem in Afghanistan, and the proper training is required for their national forces to combat and reduce the influence of the Afghan drug lords.

A hearty congratulations to Supt. Fudge for speaking in realistic and pragmatic terms. It is obviously not a popular concept in Canada that our responsibility there doesn't end when we reach an arbitrarily chosen deadline. To leave Afghanistan in February 2009 when the training of Afghan police forces--amongst many other things--is incomplete would be to leave uneasy, uncertain young men and women to fight a determined and highly capable enemy. That is not something that a responsible state does to a friend.

**Update** Mark, Ottawa over at The Torch has also posted about this story.

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