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Canadian Forces to Strengthen ISAF Ops (May 17)

OTTAWA---Canada is reaffirming its strong diplomatic, development and defence commitment to Afghanistan by extending its military presence and deploying a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

This fall, Canadian Forces Camp Julien in Kabul will close and CF assets will move to Kandahar. This will facilitate the deployment in early 2006 of a brigade headquarters and an army task force, expected to remain in theatre respectively for a period of nine and 12 months. This increase of Canada's military contribution will strengthen the security situation in Afghanistan. These forces will also play a key role in accelerating the expansion of the ISAF mission in southern Afghanistan, expected to occur gradually in 2006, during which the Canadian PRT, initially part of the Operation Enduring Freedom coalition, will transfer to NATO leadership.

Canada will also deploy a Canadian-led PRT to Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, for a period of about 18 months beginning in August 2005 . This team will bring together CF personnel, civilian police, diplomats, and aid workers in an integrated Canadian effort to reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in and around Kandahar and will assist in the stabilization of the region.

As such, Canada will extend the mandate of its reconnaissance squadron already in Kabul until late this year with the fifth deployment to Operation ATHENA later this summer. In doing so, the Canadian Forces ( CF) will continue to provide the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with valuable intelligence , situational awareness, and will help facilitate the Afghan election process.

“This commitment is consistent with our new international and defence policies, which demonstrate Canada's emphasis on bringing stability and humanitarian relief to fragile states,” said Defence Minister Bill Graham. “With this commitment, Canada is assuming a leadership role in paving the way for a secure, democratic and self-sustaining Afghanistan.”

“Canada's recognized leadership role in Afghanistan is being increased,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew. “This initiative is a genuine demonstration of an integrated approach in line with our new International Policy, between Foreign Affairs, CIDA, the Canadian Forces and the RCMP. This unique approach will assist Afghanistan in its efforts to become a stable, democratic and self-sustaining state which never again serves as a haven for terrorists.”

“ Sustainable development requires security,” said International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll. “The PRT will work to stabilize the Kandahar region and, in turn, help development efforts to flourish.”

The specific details of this strong commitment to Afghanistan will be determined in consultation with our allies, partners and other government departments.

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Canada Expands Security and Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan