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Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.

 

Military hopes Afghans tune in:

Radio kandahar; 'We have made advances in the security situation'

Lee Greenberg, Montreal Gazette, 2 Nov 06

Article Link (Subscription needed)

 

The Canadian military is launching a radio station to help

convince Afghans in the volatile south that their country is a safer

place, says the man who yesterday took command of Canada's nearly

2,200 troops stationed here.

 

"We have not been really good at telling our story," said

Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant. The station "will go a long way to making sure

that people realize that we have made significant advances in the

security situation ... of the average Afghan."

 

Grant disputed numbers showing Afghanistan is in the midst of its

bloodiest year since a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in

2001.

 

More than 3,000 people have died in fighting this year, including

rebels, hundreds of civilians and about 150 soldiers, it was

reported. A total of 42 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died

in Afghanistan since 2002 - 34 of them since March.

 

A suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy yesterday, wounding two

U.S. soldiers and damaging a vehicle, while a NATO air strike killed

three suspected insurgents in the east, the Associated Press

reported.

 

"The professional assessment from the coalition on the ground is

that the situation is safer," Grant told reporters. "If you look at

the markets, if you look at the number of people on the roads doing

business, all of those are positive indications that people are more

comfortable with the situation in Kandahar than they were last year

or the year before."

 

Yet British General David Richards, NATO's top commander in

Afghanistan, told the Financial Times in an interview published

yesterday that he doesn't have enough forces to defeat the Taliban

within the next six months, but they can still make "sufficient

improvements" to keep Afghans confident in the government and

international community.

 

Officials say the radio station will counter the implicit promise

by rebels of a safer, more stable country - a statement military

personnel call Taliban propaganda.

 

There is evidence that insurgent tactics, which include suicide

bombs, roadside explosive devices and various forms of death threats

to anyone who associates with coalition troops, are stifling

development.

 

Members of the provincial reconstruction team in Zhari District

rarely leave their fortified compound. Interpreters live under

threat of death and have been ordered to remain on base.

 

Cash offers of compensation for battle-damaged homes have been

rebuffed as have offers of on-base employment.

 

About 40 soldiers from the Royal 22e Regiment in CFB Valcartier,

who left for Afghanistan Monday, are to provide a security force for

the PRT.


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