Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The "Canadian Ministers" in Afghan Government

Writing for WSWS, Guy Charron penned a solid piece that puts Canada's 'Strategic Advisory Team-Afghanistan' (SAT-A) into context, while citing some declassified ATIP documents. SAT-A, otherwise known as "Operation Argus," stemmed from Rick Hillier's pre-CDS days as commander of Canada's occupying contingent in Kabul in 2004. SAT-A has been lauded as an exemplar of Canada's "3D" or "whole-of-government" approach to 21st century foreign policy, wherein "unity of effort" brings defence, diplomacy, and development together to wage counterinsurgency (COIN).

COINcidentally, today's issue of Embassy features a [laudatory] profile of a Canadian, Tonita Murray, who is "attached to the Afghan interior ministry as a gender advisor. Her job is to advise and oversee projects that empower and facilitate the entry of women into the police force." Although SAT-A is not mentioned, her CIDA and CANADEM-funded COIN assistance must see crossover with them, for they too have an advisor embedded with the same ministry. The recent Defence Committee report, although (and unsurprisingly) uncritical of the SAT-A program, lists all of the Afghan ministries that Canadians are embedded within:

The Chief of Staff of the Office of the President; The Senior Economic Advisor to the President; The Executive Director of the Afghan National Development Strategy; The Minister of Justice; The Minister of National Communications; The Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (National Solidarity Program); The Minister of Education; The Minister of Transportation and Civil Aviation; The Minister of the Interior; The Minister of Finance; and The Chairman of Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (p. 59)
For some of the little background that is publicly available on SAT-A, also check out Brian Stewart's "Inside the Mission" piece produced last March for CBC. In introducing the 12-minute story, Peter Mansbridge referred to SAT-A as "A little know Canadian contingent with a lot of influence."

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