Today, we learn that people in the military, those in the know, don't believe 1000 extra troops is sufficient. This admission brings into question the Manley panel reasoning, was the figure agreed upon because it was palatable to "sell" to Canadians, or was it really a sober analysis of what was truly needed?
According to the military, we need more troops than Manley recommends:
Canada needs as many as 5,000 professional NATO soldiers — double its current force — to hold Kandahar's key districts, a senior commander says, suggesting that previous demands for extra troops are not enough for basic security in the province...
Military officials have spoken more bluntly about their lack of numbers recently, in private conversations and even publicly at meetings with Afghans.
Even more than 5,000 NATO troops may be required for the province, Major Moffet said, because beyond the troops needed for the core districts, NATO would also require forces to intercept the Taliban's supply routes in outlying areas.
Moffet basically argues that 1000 additional troops will not achieve what we in Canada are lead to believe, because of Manley's conclusions. Everyone has embraced what Manley has offered, but there has really been little in the way of critical analysis, it is just assumed. In other words, is Manley presenting false expectation, are the conclusions masking a bigger problem, trying to find a political solution in the short term? Did Manley come up with the 1000 troops because they concluded that the number was attainable within NATO, a benchmark that we could reach, therefore ensuring broader support?
We've already seen that when Canadians are presented with the idea of these additional troops, support for the war rising considerably, if we could secure that recommendation. Canadians are apparently buying into the Manley demand, because we are taking this recommendation at face value, we assume that this number is vetted, this number will improve the situation. If you listen to the military, it would appear this number is not a conclusion, reached through their advice, it is insufficient. A critical point, because we move forward with benchmarks which are put into question, by those in the know, while we all assume a false goal has been reached.
Before we agree on a final Afghan "compromise", I think it is up to the Liberals to ask some tough questions on the methodology to come up with these 1000 troops. What was the panel's basis for this figure, can they provide sound military opinion to support the idea this is what is required? It seems this part of the story is getting lost, it is critical to resolve it, and allow everyone to move forward with eyes wide open, instead of some false expectation, that doesn't address the core problem. If we need to double our troop strength, or more, then decisions should be based on this reality, instead of presenting something which is based on political achieveability.