"We are winning in Afghanistan"


Canada is winning the war in Afghanistan and is making significant progress in rebuilding that South Asian country, says the general who commands the Canadian Forces mission in Kandahar.

But Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, who heads the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command in Ottawa, warns that because Afghan insurgents are losing ground, they likely will resort to increasing the number of roadside bombs and suicide attacks in an attempt to inflict more casualties on troops.

"From a military perspective in the south of Afghanistan, in Kandahar specifically, we are winning," Lt.-Gen. Gauthier said in an interview with CanWest News Service. "We are winning where it matters most, where the people live. Where 90 per cent of the population is, we have a strong security influence in concert with our Afghan partners."


The state of the security situation in Afghanistan has been a hotly debated topic over the last several months. A recent United Nations report warned security in Afghanistan has deteriorated. In early November, Taliban forces captured three districts in western Afghanistan, undercutting NATO claims the insurgents were unable to conduct large-scale operations.

Last week the Senlis Council released a report that noted Taliban insurgents have a permanent presence in a little more than half of Afghanistan. "The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries," added the report from the think-tank with operations in Kandahar.

It warned the insurgency had reached "crisis proportions" and that there will be an increase in "asymmetric warfare" techniques such as improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the Senlis report was not credible but the study was embraced by opposition MPs on the Commons defence committee who accused the Canadian Forces of deliberately painting a positive picture of the situation in Afghanistan while ignoring the reality.


Gauthier said the insurgents are on the run, backing away from any head-to-head clashes with coalition forces. At the same time, he said, their ability to direct operations has been disrupted. "Our expectation (of) what we will see in the coming months is the continuation of more asymmetric approaches, IED attacks and so on," said Gauthier.

But he noted better intelligence and improvements in technology are increasing the number of improvised explosive devices found before they can be detonated. "We're finding more and more in advance of a strike which is why, in part, you're seeing a reduction in Canadian casualties over the course of the last several months," he added.


I think the general is in a better position to understand the state of the war than a bunch from a council that is not in day to day contact with the enemy forces. The enemy in Afghanistan has lost every engagement sustain casualties at ratios as much as 100 to 1. A fighting force that is taking that kind of casualties is not winning.


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