Troops prepare for six-month stint in Afghanistan
Close to 200 troops from across Western Canada left Edmonton Tuesday for the latest six-month mission in Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar province.
"We're doing a lot of good work and that's increasing and I think that's a good sign," said Major Jason Vivian.
Vivian will be involved in training the Afghan national army. Others will be joining up with the battle groups already in action.
The troops will be heading into a dangerous situation. The arrival of American troops in the spring has put pressure on Taliban insurgents.
"The Taliban was able to operate relatively unimpeded in a lot of areas in Kandahar, and is suddenly now finding themselves under pressure," said military analyst Mercedes Stephenson.
The federal government has insisted that our country is getting the upper hand.
"80 more locally recruited people in the area in the expertise specifically of de-mining, 80 more Khandahar's have been trained in that particular activity and this quarter, an additional 270,000 square metres of land was cleared, so we've seen progress there," said International Trade Minister Stockwell Day.
Stephenson said before U.S. troops arrived, they were able to successfully clear ground, but were unsuccessful at holding it because there were not enough troops.
Now with thousands more U.S. troops in the region, Canada's operations are smaller, which allows troops to hold more areas.
"It's allowing our troops to really directly connect to the Afghan people and to give them that sense of confidence that were not just saying we're here to help you, we're actually here to help you and we're going to defend and stay in the village with you," said Stephenson.
The federal government has promised to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan by summer 2011. The plan is to have the bulk of troops home by December.
With files from CTV's Bill Fortier