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Canadian general predicts 20-year mission in Afghanistan
from China View
Entered into the database on Wednesday, August 10th, 2005 @ 16:40:33 MST


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Canadian troops could stay in Afghanistan for at least 20 years, predicted one of the top generals amidst public criticism of the government decision to expand troops deployment from the Afghan capital to other regions.

"Afghanistan is a 20-year venture," Maj.-Gen. Andrew was quoted by Monday's Toronto Star as saying.

He argued that the lengthy stay is necessary to help the war-torn country break out of "a cycle of warlords and tribalism."

Leslie made the remarks Sunday at the Couchiching Summer Conference in Orillia, Ontario, north of Toronto.

Canada began building up its forces in Afghanistan in July, and hundreds of soldiers have been sent to the region of Kandahar during the past one month. According to a defense ministry plan, as many as 1,250 Canadian soldiers will be serving in Afghanistan by February 2006.

The peace-keeping force that was deployed in Kabul in August 2003 will also move to Kandahar when its mission ends this autumn after the Afghan National Assembly and Provincial Council elections .

The decision to send troops to Afghanistan was under fire ever since it was first announced in 2003, sparking fears of fatalities among both the public and government officials.

The plan to expand mission to Kandahar this year also met with strong opposition as fears grew for a terrorist attack on Canadian soil in the wake of the July 7 bomb attack on London.

Leslie defended the move as worthwhile saying "there are things worth fighting for, there are things worth dying for, there are things worth killing for."

His remarks echoed that of Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, who said in July that by sending troops to Afghanistan, Canada is actually protecting itself in the long run.