The new Afghanistan buzzword, but what does it mean and does it show any relationship to reality? One thing that Afghanistan has taught Canada, NATO is simply not an equal share military organization. You can knock on doors for eternity, certain countries will not make commitments consistent with other nations. Forget the Germans, forget the Italians, just forget the idea that all parties see Afghanistan in the same way. This is the starting point for a honest discussion of rotation.
The idea that Canada is part of some rotation makes sense when you prescribe to the idea of mutual self-interest, a band of countries together for a common cause. Canada has done its part on the frontlines, now different member states can takeover, while we operate in the background implementing other necessary work. That position sounds entirely reasonable, and it does to speak to the idea of fairness. However, when the ideal meets the reality, the notion of rotation sounds like pure fantasy.
There are only a few countries that are committed to Afghanistan, or better said, willing to put soldiers in areas that are hostile. When you couple this sobering reality with the widely held view that there needs to be more forces in volatile areas, it seems reasonable to wonder where in the hell the "rotation" comes from- how do you not only secure more troops, but in addition, find even more to take on our current role? Given past history, given the tremendous arm twisting needed to find a few hundred soldiers, the idea that you will find enough troops to do the job, with Canada out, is just counter-intuitive.
If you believe that Canada must stay committed to Afghanistan, and a military component is necessary (whatever the countries), you then have to go beyond the buzzword and tell everyone how you make up the difference, how you stay in Kandahar doing re-construction and training? If there is no equal rotation, then the security situation only deteriorates further, leaving our forces on the backlines prime for attack.
Here's my take, there is no rotation coming. There are only a few countries committed to the mission in the south, that is the pool from which to tap, and in many ways, it's tapped out. You can augment(France), which is required, but there is no replacement on the horizon. The question then becomes, is Canada staying or not, because our continued involvement demands a role on the frontlines. We can talk about focus, where the emphasis should lie, but I see all elements working in concert, more a matter of degree, than exclusivity. Until I see different, rotation sounds like a noble ideal, that has little chance of real application.