Saturday, February 23, 2008

Manley's Conclusions Questioned

One item I've always been curious about, with regard to the Manley panel recommendations, how did they come up with the 1000 extra troops argument? You assume, that this figure came after detailed consultation with the military, as to what was needed to ensure "success". If you actually read the report, there is really no substantive reference to support this demand, it is presented in such a way that you just assume the number is a careful conclusion.

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.


Greg said...

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.

You are assuming that the "compromise" has anything to do with success in Afghanistan. This is about avoiding Afghanistan as an election issue by the Liberal and Conservative hierarchies than anything else. My guess is only the NDP and Bloc will bring this up (not for any noble reasons but simply because they can without looking like idiots). All you will hear from the Liberal benches is silence.

RuralSandi said...

1,000 troops - reminds me of the piece meal approach Bush/Rumsfeld used for Iraq.

If you're going to do it, do it right.

And, what gives the Manley panel expertise on military matters?

Steve V said...

"And, what gives the Manley panel expertise on military matters?"

Well, you would assume they consulted with military experts before reaching their conclusions? If they didn't, and this should be clarified, that it puts the whole process into question, furthering the view that it was nothing but a political exercise.

MississaugaJoan said...

1000 is a common number used because it's a lot but not too much. Bush Sr. used to talk about a "1000 points of light". It, like the rest of the Manley Report, was written to manipulate Canadians into agreeing for a continued military mission in Kandahar.

Germany and Italy, with more troops in Afghanistan than Canada, have forbidden their troops from Kandahar. And there is good reason. Manley and the Conservatives on the otherhand are cozing up to the Americans - believing their pro-military actions will win them favour with the Americans.

Dion, in 2006, acted on principal and voted with the majority of Liberals against the present military mission.

Dion, in 2008, has lost his principles and has forced the Liberal caucus to do the same.

Maybe it's time the rest of us join the Iggy and Rae forces and ask for Dion's resignation. We were hoodwinked in Montreal.

Steve V said...

"Maybe it's time the rest of us join the Iggy and Rae forces and ask for Dion's resignation."

Those two are probably more hawkish on Afghanistan than Dion...

The Mound of Sound said...

According to America's latest counterinsurgency guru, General David Petraeus, battling an insurgency is enormously labour-intensive. The current orthodoxy is it requires as many as one rifle for every 25-civilians. There are just shy of 900,000 Afghans in Kandahar province. Do the math. 5,000 is barely a third of the number needed.
Manley's number is a political number. Nowhere in his report is there any sign that he read Petraeus' FM 3-24 field manual or any of the classic works on guerrilla warfare. 1,000 is a number he pulled straight out of his ass which is where his report should be returned.

Ti-Guy said...

Those two are probably more hawkish on Afghanistan than Dion...

Certainly Iggy is. I disagree with MississaugaJoan's conclusion (you're not concern trolling, are you?) but her analysis is probably correct. There is no methodology underpinning these proposals. It's one of the reasons that cause me to oppose this mission more than anything else. I don't like being treated like a stupid rube.

wilson said...

With the 1200 Cdn troops in Kandahar plus a new 1000 NATO troops, this may be an attempt to convince the US to leave their 3200 marines, in Kandahar, permanently.

Anonymous said...

steve v and ti-guy,

In the past, both Iggy and Rae are on the record being more hawkish than Dion. Now Dion has joined them and left the majority opinion of Liberal MPs and Canadians who do not want Canada to continue it's military role in Afghanistan.

Dion promised to listen to grassroots Liberals and Canadians, he is ignoring us and following the advice of the elites. It's time for his head.

By the way, where are we with Kyoto? Didn't Parliament pass it last year? If it needed to be reintroduced in the new session, why hasn't it? Or has Dion capitulated on the environment as well?

Not a happy life-long Liberal.