The effects of the Manley Report are still being felt, as journalist Jon Elmer makes clear below. For those who wish to revisit commentary on the report, we have blogged at least four times on the Manley Report (here, here, here and here). For a useful summary of the Manley Report and its context, see Roger Annis, Ottawa Gets Advice on Prolonging the War (Part 2 here).
Now back to Elmer. Aside from being an admired photo journalist with experience in many of the world's conflict-ridden areas, he is one of the most unflinching and well-informed commentators on Canada's foreign policy. (For proof of that assertion, see this Google video of a speech Elmer gave last year in Vancouver.)
CANADA: Pro-U.S. Panel Was Key in Extending Afghan MissionIt should be noted that the last paragraph of the piece contains an error, resulting in an understatement of the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan. The US CENTCOM data referred to above is given in a recent short study by widely-respected American defense analyst Anthony Cordesman (pictured), entitled "US Airpower in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2004-2007" (pdf here). In it, we read:
By Jon Elmer
VANCOUVER, Mar 19 (IPS) - Buoyed by the recommendations of a government-appointed blue-ribbon panel, Canada's parliament last week approved a motion to extend its combat mission in Afghanistan until the end of 2011.
The outcome of the motion was effectively predetermined, as the two largest parties in the House of Commons -- the Liberals and the governing Conservatives -- agreed on the wording of the resolution in the weeks leading up to the vote. ...
During the vote, protestors in the House of Commons public gallery chanted "end it, don't extend it" ...
While the Manley Panel was bipartisan in affiliation, its members shared an essential vision of the importance of Canada's integration with the United States. ...
"They are all either conservative Liberals, or Conservatives who have an involvement in the United States-Canada relationship," said [author Stephen] Clarkson ...
"Since Canada's role in Afghanistan is so obviously connected to Ottawa's desire to please Washington, it was very unlikely they would recommend anything other than staying in Afghanistan," he said. ...
U.S. President George W. Bush said last week that he intends to use the [upcoming] Bucharest summit to persuade allies to ramp-up the fight in the south. "We're mindful of their request, and we want to help them meet that request," President Bush said of the Canadian contingency.
Retired Canadian Major-General Terry Liston told IPS that the troop request is simply a political gesture, far short of what NATO generals on the ground say is required. "Just in Kandahar province, according to American [counterinsurgency] doctrine you'd need about 16,000 soldiers," he said. "It's a drop in the bucket, the 1,000."
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the so-called fighting season in Afghanistan, the United States has sent and additional 3,600 Marines on a seven-month deployment to southern Afghanistan. The Marines, about half of whom have already arrived in the country, will operate under Canadian Major-General Marc Lessard and NATO's Regional Command South, which includes Helmand and Kandahar provinces -- the heart of the Afghan insurgency.
A report of the United Nations secretary-general earlier this month detailed a sharp increase in insurgent activity in 2007, an average of 566 incidents a month compared with 425 a month in 2006. Data from the United States Central Command indicates a concurrent rise in NATO and U.S. airstrikes during that same period – 2,926 bombs dropped in 2007 up from 1,770 in 2006. More than 8,000 people were killed last year, including at least 1,500 civilians, the U.N. said. (link)
[In Afghanistan] the total number of close air support/precision strike sorties flown in that dropped a major munition rose from 86 in 2004, and only 176 in 2005, to 1,770 in 2006 (10-fold annual increase), and 2,926 in 2007 (1.7 times higher as of 5 December). ...Thus, the CENTCOM data count the number of sorties that dropped bombs, not the number of bombs dropped. A look at yesterday's US Airforce Airpower Summary shows that aircraft frequently drop more than one bomb per sortie:
In Afghanistan, an Air Force B-1B Lancer dropped guided bomb unit-31s and guided bomb unit-38s onto an enemy compound and enemy combatant positions ...Nearby, you can see photos of the GBU-31 (a 2,000 lb munition) as well as the GBU-38 (a 500 lb munition).
A B-1B dropped GBU-31s onto an enemy bunker and an enemy building ...
Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs fired cannon rounds and dropped general purpose 500-pound bombs onto enemy combatant positions ... (link)
Previously, we have seen that British and
Canadian troops have fired off some 9 million bullets in the two southern Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. We have also seen that, beginning with the stepping-up of the war in mid-2006, US and NATO air strikes have dropped 80,000 to 100,000 lbs. of bombs per month (see blog entries here and here).