Canada's Defence Minister visits Canadian troops in Afghanistan

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

As public opinion wavers over Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, Defence minister Gordon O'Connor made an appearance to shore up support among the troops for the Afghan mission.

O'Connor disembarked a Canadian Forces Hercules C-130 transport plane dressed in full desert battle fatigues and boots, and was greeted by Lieut.-Gen. Michel Gauthier at Canada's base on Kandahar airfield. "I'm here on this visit to get three perspectives - One is what's happening on the ground here. The other in Kabul for what's happening on the national level, and then I'm going to Pakistan for the international perspective."

The minister's visit comes as a surge of violence is sweeping across southern Afghanistan. Military casualties have run high since August 3rd, claiming the lives of eight Canadian troops, one British soldier and many more civilians. Much of the violence comes at the hands of suicide bomb attacks against resupply convoys amid growing frustration at the presence of foreign troops in Afghan territory. In the hours before O'Connor's arrival another suicide bomber targeted a Canadian convoy, killing two civilians and injuring a third.

Military officials took the opportunity to highlight concerns for the troops on the ground who are complaining of poor equipment, vehicles and accommodation.