NATO allies want Canada to keep some troops in Afghanistan as trainers

The commander of Canada

From Karen DeYoung, the Washington Post:  The United States and other NATO allies are trying to persuade Canada, whose troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan next year, to leave a hundreds-strong residual force as trainers for Afghan security forces.

The hope is that Canada will agree to contribute up to 500 of the 850 trainers needed, said one European defense official on the margins of a security conference here sponsored by the German Marshall Fund and the Canadian government. Senior NATO member officials, including U.S. Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy, met behind the scenes over the weekend to iron out agreements for the upcoming summit.

"The United States, France and Britain have said to the Canadians ‘Don’t waste your experience’ in Afghanistan" by leaving before the mission is completed, said the European official, one of several who discussed the private meetings on condition of anonymity. …

Ending the Canadian combat role is "non-negotiable," according to a senior Canadian government official quoted Friday by the Toronto Star. [Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper, who heads a minority government, likely faces an election campaign in the spring.

While Canadian public approval of the Afghan mission is low, some opposition figures have indicated that an ongoing training or development role is not out of the question.  (photo: AP)

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