According to the Department of National Defence, 325 of the 2,750 Canadian military personnel in Afghanistan are currently engaged in "instructing, training and mentoring" members of the Afghan army and police.So at best, either Harper's claim about keeping troops "behind the wire" and out of combat after 2011 is absolute nonsense, or the extension involves sending hundreds more troops than are actually needed to carry out the role they've been assigned.
The department won't say exactly where all the "training and mentoring" of Afghans is happening. But it does acknowledge that fewer than 125 Canadian soldiers are assigned to various training centres, headquarters and other relatively safe areas.
So, what does the Harper government's plan really mean?
The number of Canadian military personnel involved in classroom training would increase from fewer than 125 to perhaps 1,000, while Canada's currently onerous contribution to actual in-field combat training would be eliminated.
But NATO documents indicate the alliance only needs another 750 trainers from among the entire 42 countries with forces in Afghanistan. The vast majority of those trainers would be involved potentially in live combat.
But then, the more likely answer is "both of the above": by sending more personnel than could possibly be useful for actual training at secure facilities, Harper will position himself to say he has no choice but to reluctantly authorize the extra troops to go into combat whenever he figures he can get the Libs to go along with it. And so will the quagmire continue.
(H/t to Audrey.)