Vive Le Canada

Afghan war takes toll on U.S. ally
Date: Wednesday, January 31 2007
Topic:


Afghan war takes toll on U.S. ally
By Laura King and Maggie Farley
Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:06 AM PST

MASUMGHAR, Afghan-istan — In the wind-scoured high desert that was once the heartland of the Taliban movement, the will and determination of a little-heralded American ally have been undergoing a harsh test.

For the last six months, the task of confronting insurgents in volatile Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan has largely fallen to Canada, whose troops have participated in myriad peacekeeping missions in recent years but had not seen high-intensity combat since the Korean War.

Although its nearly 3,000 troops account for less than 10 percent of the allied forces in Afghanistan, Canada absorbed nearly 20 percent of the coalition’s combat deaths last year, losing 36 soldiers.

A Canadian diplomat also was killed, by a suicide bomber.

The disproportionate casualty count in a region that Taliban commanders have pledged to seize this spring has triggered debate at home about whether Canada is finding itself in a quagmire of American making.

The deployment is a strain for military families. Moreover, the Canadian mission points up the stresses and strains caused by unequal burden-sharing within NATO.

Already, alliance unity has been frayed by what commanders describe as an insufficient overall troop commitment and rules that sharply limit the combat capabilities of some participants.

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