Wednesday, February 28, 2007

O'Connor is desperate for troops ... let's all sign up!

Canada eyeing using more reservists to bolster Afghan mission
More part-time troops, traditionally peacekeepers, now seeing combat

February 28, 2007 CBC

Canada's army is at least 3,000 soldiers short of meeting the nation's military commitments in Afghanistan and needs a serious boost in manpower, a commander in the Canadian Forces says.

Lieut.-Gen. Andrew Leslie said the concern is so great he is considering dipping into the part-time reserve force — troops traditionally used in peacekeeping — to bolster the ranks seeing combat in Afghanistan.

"By February 2009, just about every soldier in the regular army, and I'd say about 20 per cent of the reserve force, will have gone through [combat]," Leslie said.

The mission in Afghanistan, which is the crux of Canada's military efforts, requires nearly 2,500 fresh troops every six months, he said.

Right now, some 3,000 to 5,000 new soldiers would be needed to reinforce operations in Afghanistan, and "we're looking at somewhere between 400 to 600 reservists being part of that mix."

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor has no objections to deploying reserve soldiers for combat missions.

"All soldiers, no matter what their origins are, are all trained to the same standards," O'Connor said. "We put the same effort in, with the same cost, so from my point of view, it makes no difference whether you're regular or reserve."

The Canadian Forces is looking to offer full-time soldiering jobs to as many as 1,500 part-time troops in order to keep the army prepared to fight.