As Canada debates its role in a major battle in the Afghanistan war, NATO is desperately seeking to bolster its forces in the still divided country to fight a revitalized Taliban, the National Post reports.
NATO will officially request re-deployment on May 25 when the alliance meets in Brussels for its annual summit. Both President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be present.
The request for a bolstered military presence comes from alliance commanders in Aghanistan who say the Afghan forces are unable to cope with a Taliban threat that is growing stronger. At least several thousand more NATO soldiers will be required to meet that increased threat, said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who estimated that the Taliban now has hegemony of 40 percent of the country.
“It will continue to be a train, assist and advise operation,” Stoltenberg said. “We are now looking into requests regarding some areas like more education, for the military academies, but also training special operation forces and air forces.”
Canadian defense minister Harjit Sajjan, in the middle of a political scandal and being asked daily by the official opposition Conservatives to resign, had no comment on the potential redeployment. His press secretary, Jordan Owens, merely issued a statement indicating “We are not tracking a request,” which provided no hint as to whether the Trudeau government will comply with the NATO request or not.
Even though Australia is not a member of NATO, its prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has already confirmed that he has received such a request and is considering sending more to augment the 300 soldiers already in-theater.
Germany, another NATO member, had already declined the offer to send more military personnel.
Canada left the Afghan war in 2014 after suffering the loss of 158 soldiers. A few military personnel are still deployed in Kabul to provide security to the Canadian embassy there.
“The number of CAF members deployed is limited, and in order to maintain operational security and ensure the safety of Canadian Armed Forces personnel, no further information is available at this time,” Department of National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski said Friday.
Standing against the Taliban are just over 13,000 coalition soldiers — 7,000 of them American.
U.S. intelligence is also aware of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Dan Coats told Congress last Thursday that the situation is expected to worsen in 2017: “Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners,”Coats said. “Afghan security forces performance will probably worsen due to a combination of Taliban operations, combat casualties, desertion, poor logistics support and weak leadership.”