RM
RM Archive - onsite copies of linked stories

RM Issue #030725

McCallum: Canadians prepared for casualties
Thu, July 17, 2003


By Stephen Thorne
OTTAWA (CP) -- Canadians are prepared for casualties among their soldiers in Afghanistan and the government is prepared to sacrifice them to prevent another Sept. 11 from happening in Canada, Defence Minister John McCallum said Thursday.

McCallum said he will tell the sons and daughters of departing troops on Saturday that his government will defend against terrorism "at all costs."

"I want to explain briefly in language that the children of the soldiers can understand why we're doing this," McCallum said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who made his base in Afghanistan, has specifically singled out Canada as a target of his al- Qaida operatives.

"It could be Canada," McCallum warned. "The only thing standing between what's Afghanistan today and falling back into a failed-state condition where the al-Qaida could re-emerge is our security forces.

"For the safety and security of North America, including Canada, it's very important that we not allow this to happen."

Bin Laden used bases in Afghanistan to train and equip the terrorists who committed the airliner atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001.

A U.S.-led military operation scattered al-Qaida and Taliban fighters but they have re-organized and continue to menace the fragile government of Hamid Karzai as well as threatening further terrorist strikes against the West.

The first frontline Canadian troops are set to leave from Petawawa, Ont., on Saturday. The government has committed two six-month rotations of 1,800 soldiers apiece, beginning patrols in southwest Kabul on Aug. 21.

They are part of the 29-nation International Security Assistance Force, charged with the task of protecting Karzai's interim government and rooting out Taliban, al-Qaida and other resistance forces.

The NATO-led troops have come under attack weekly; about 20 have died so far.

McCallum acknowledged the mission is far more dangerous than the typical United Nations peacekeeping operation.

He said the troops have been outfitted with an unusually "robust" array of equipment, including unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, special radar units and artillery.

He said the rules of engagement under which the Canadians will operate are flexible enough to "reflect the high level of risk, including suicide bombers."

"It's not a combat mission but I think they will be very well equipped to defend themselves not just at the moment of attack."

Four Canadians died in Afghanistan after they were mistakenly fired upon by a U.S. pilot on April 18, 2002. The soldiers' deaths were a sobering reminder of the dangers faced by those heading to Afghanistan.

McCallum said Canadians will accept further casualties as long as they "understand and accept that this is a very important mission for our country" and all has been done to ensure the soldiers' safety.

"We all hope that there will not be, but if it is critical to the security of our country . . . Canadians would accept the inevitability of it."

Canada, McCallum said, has been called "a peaceable kingdom, never a pacifist kingdom."

"I don't think we are a pacifist nation," he said. "I think if Canadians believe that this is important to our national security and peace in the world, they will stand up to the plate. We have in the past.

"And when one does that, one accepts the risk of casualties."

McCallum said the government has not ruled out extending the mission beyond one year.

"We have to see how the conditions are in Afghanistan; we have to see what other countries might step up to the plate; what progress is made in that country; other possible demands on our troops; our resources; the degree to which our military is stretched."

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Canada ready for Afghanistan casualties: Minister
Jul. 17, 2003
OTTAWA (CP) Canadians are prepared for casualties among their soldiers in Afghanistan and the government is prepared to sacrifice them to prevent another Sept. 11 from happening in Canada, Defence Minister John McCallum said today. McCallum said he will tell the sons and daughters of departing troops on Saturday that his government will defend against terrorism ``at all costs." "I want to explain briefly in language that the children of the soldiers can understand why we're doing this," McCallum said in an interview with The Canadian Press. Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who made his base in Afghanistan, has reportedly specifically singled out Canada as a target of his Al Qaeda operatives. "It could be Canada," McCallum warned. "The only thing standing between what's Afghanistan today and falling back into a failed-state condition where the Al Qaeda could re-emerge is our security forces. "For the safety and security of North America, including Canada, it's very important that we not allow this to happen." Bin Laden used bases in Afghanistan to train and equip the terrorists who committed the airliner atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001. A U.S.-led military operation scattered Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters but they have re-organized and continue to menace the fragile government of Hamid Karzai as well as threatening further terrorist strikes against the West. The first frontline Canadian troops are set to leave from Petawawa, Ont., on Saturday. The government has committed two six-month rotations of 1,800 soldiers apiece, beginning patrols in southwest Kabul on Aug. 21. They are part of the 29-nation International Security Assistance Force, charged with the task of protecting Karzai's interim government and rooting out Taliban, Al Qaeda and other resistance forces. The NATO-led troops have come under attack weekly; about 20 have died so far. McCallum acknowledged the mission is far more dangerous than the typical United Nations peacekeeping operation. He said the troops have been outfitted with an unusually ``robust" array of equipment, including unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, special radar units and artillery. He said the rules of engagement under which the Canadians will operate are flexible enough to "reflect the high level of risk, including suicide bombers." "It's not a combat mission but I think they will be very well equipped to defend themselves not just at the moment of attack." Four Canadians died in Afghanistan after they were mistakenly fired upon by a U.S. pilot on April 18, 2002. The soldiers' deaths were a sobering reminder of the dangers faced by those heading to Afghanistan. McCallum said Canadians will accept further casualties as long as they "understand and accept that this is a very important mission for our country" and all has been done to ensure the soldiers' safety. "We all hope that there will not be, but if it is critical to the security of our country . . . Canadians would accept the inevitability of it." Canada, McCallum said, has been called "a peaceable kingdom, never a pacifist kingdom." "I don't think we are a pacifist nation," he said. "I think if Canadians believe that this is important to our national security and peace in the world, they will stand up to the plate. We have in the past. "And when one does that, one accepts the risk of casualties." McCallum said the government has not ruled out extending the mission beyond one year. "We have to see how the conditions are in Afghanistan; we have to see what other countries might step up to the plate; what progress is made in that country; other possible demands on our troops; our resources; the degree to which our military is stretched."



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