On the Afghanistan mission:
What are the goals and objectives of the mission and how do they meet our foreign-policy objectives?
What is the mandate, what is the defined concept of operations, what is the effective command and control structure, what are the rules of engagement?
These are the questions Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor asked Bill Graham last November at the first "take note" debate on the mission. They were unanswered.
These are the same questions Jack Layton asked of O'Connor last spring, again to go unanswered.
Since that time other questions have come to mind:
To what extend have we been able to meet our non-military, PRT objectives in the South?
Are we still fighting the 'Taliban' or have other groups - heroin traffickers, disaffected warlords, honestly disgruntled peasants - entered the fray, complicating this matter?
How succesful have we been in bringing the Afghan police and army up to speed to help with security?
How have the recent actions of Pakistan - either in 'makng peace' with its tribal regions or in actively supporting the Taliban - changed the scope and complexity of the mission? Under these new circumstances, does our current plan and tactics make sense?
What kinds of non-combat operations are we doing that indeed helps women protect their rights or helps farmers get off of growing poppies?
These are but a few of the questions that need answering and things that need to be made clear before the Canadian public can make informed decisions about the mission.
In doing this I am following the advice of Scott Taylor of Esprit de Corps magazine:
"As evidenced by the crowd of red shirts on Parliament Hill last Friday, Canadians do care about the welfare of our soldiers. That is exactly why we must continue to question the rationale behind our deployment and the tactics used to conduct these military operations. Asking our government to determine an exit strategy is not telling them to "cut and run."
Ultimately, it must be Hamid Karzai or his successor who solves the security situation in Afghanistan - not foreign forces.
Neither he nor Prime Minister Harper should misconstrue a patriotic display of red clothing as a blank cheque to run up a limitless casualty count in an unwinnable war "[emphasis mine].
I honeslty want answers to these questions. They are not forthcoming from our government and I have asked them over and over in various blog comments with no response either. Think of this as the place to set the record straight, or to refute the very premise, but lets get some answers and information out there.Leave your answers in the comments, please.