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The countdown has begun for troops in Afghanistan

(credit: NATO / Isaf)

2014... is ultimately the date chosen by American officials for the withdrawal from Afghanistan. But the “transition” phase begins right away. With the transformation of combat forces into training forces. Subject discussed in Lisbon today, at the NATO summit.

First test of this change: the Canadian forces. Canada had already decided to withdraw its troops (2800 men) from southern Afghanistan, from Kandahar, in 2011. This decision is maintained. But Peter MacKay's government decided to maintain an instruction mission, with 950 people (800 trainers and 150 support staff). “Canada will send up to 2011 military instructors and support personnel to facilities around Kabul starting in 950“, confirmed the Minister of Defense. But also in the rest of the country… without a doubt

This solution makes it possible to respect the decision taken in 2008 to withdraw troops but does not displease NATO allies (e.g. United States and United Kingdom) because, in fact, Canada maintains a strong presence. Incidentally, as the Canadian media explain to us, this makes it possible to do without the authorization of Parliament, the presence in Afghanistan no longer being a “combat mission".

Canada also plans to devote C$100 million per year during the last three years of the troops' mission to finance humanitarian aid programs.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).