Soldiers deploy as world leaders discuss Afghan mission
Published Sunday, February 8, 2009 5:36PM MST
One hundred Edmonton-based soldiers left for Kandahar airfield Sunday, as international leaders discussed the challenges of the mission in Afghan at a security conference in Germany.
The soldiers will spend nine months in Afghanistan helping to plan military operations and provide support to combat troops in Kandahar. For many, it is their first tour of duty.
"I said bye to my family a couple days ago so I only had to say bye to one person today, so that was better than saying bye to the whole family," said Cpl. Darcy Wood.
For others who are returning to Afghanistan the harsh reality of the mission makes it difficult for some to go.
"We had quite a few casualties...lost friends, so it's going to be a little difficult going back to the same area again," said Barb Bajema.
The deployment falls on the same day the mission in Afghanistan was discussed at a security conference in Munich.
Defence Minister Peter McKay attended the conference along with Afghan President Hamid Karzai who called for a truce with moderate Taliban members.
"We would invite all those Taliban who are not part of Al Qaeda, who are not part of a terrorist networks...to participate to come back to their country," said Karzai.
American officials also shed light on the importance of the mission, calling it a tougher war than the one in Iraq.
"We cannot afford failure in Afghanistan," said U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones.
The American government is planning to double the number of troops in Afghanistan to 60,000 over the next year and a half.
Some feel added troops will bring confidence to the mission.
"I would suggest to you that there has been and continues to be optimism because the international community is engaged," said Canadian Brig.-Gen Jon Vance.
There are currently 2,800 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, the highest number in six years. That number is expected to rise in August when Canada will likely be asked to provide extra security for the national elections.
With files from Scott Roberts