In The Media

New security concerns for Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan

by Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau (featuring J. L. Granatstein)

March 12, 2012

The weekend killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, allegedly at the hands of a U.S. soldier, are complicating the already difficult job for Canadian military trainers there.

"I think for a time they're not going to be as effective because they'll be extra careful," said Jack Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

"I don't think it's permanent, but there's no doubt it's getting harder in the circumstances."

A U.S. staff sergeant is in custody after a gunman went house to house in a village in Kandahar province on Sunday, killing 16 people, including nine children.

Granatstein said this latest incident will have Canadian soldiers again looking over their shoulders as they try to train the Afghan military. "

As we saw with the Qur'an burning incident, NATO members - white members in particular - have to take serious precautions and this incident is so awful that I'm sure the response will be several times greater than that of the Qur'an burning responses," Granatstein said. 

Reaction to last month's mistaken burning of Qur'ans on an American-run base includes the murders of two senior U.S. officers in Kabul along with suicide bombings.

There is suspicion Sunday's shootings were the result of post-traumatic stress disorder.

That's important for Canada's military bosses, said Christian Leuprecht, a professor at Royal Military College and Queen's University.

"It needs to make Canadian commanders even more alert than they have already been to the psychological demands on the soldiers and to encourage soldiers to speak up early on," he said.

-- with files from Reuters

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