Canadian military tackles Afghan intelligence woes
Fri Sep 7, 2007 12:21 PM EDT
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian armed forces are tackling a
serious inability to quickly provide troops with military
intelligence, a problem that has hampered the country's Afghan
mission, a senior officer said on Friday.
Commanders had started to address the issue but redoubled
their efforts after a January report said the headquarters
running all overseas operations "clearly suffers from a lack of
intelligence capability," said Colonel Stephen Christensen.
Canada has 2,500 troops in the southern city of Kandahar on
a combat mission that is due to end in early 2009. So far, 70
soldiers have been killed, most by roadside bombs and mines.
Christensen told Reuters that officials were trying to
combine information from four separate teams -- mapping and
charting, meteorology, analysis of freely available material
Previously, all four teams would pass on data separately, a
process that was time-consuming.
The January report, compiled by three senior military
experts, said small units on missions were not receiving useful
information fast enough.
"We had a feeling about this anyway and the ... report just
amplified our understanding of how grave the problem was," said
Christensen, one of the officers running a program to
streamline the armed forces.
He said a special team was now in place to gather
information from disparate sources and pump it out to the
Last week the officer in charge of all overseas missions
told Reuters that Canadian forces had arrested several bomb
makers and militants around Kandahar in the last month.
Asked whether the arrests could be linked to the new team,
"I would suggest that they absolutely can be and that that
is an indicator here on the ground of where our commander is
seeing the results of the accelerated emphasis on the
The system would undoubtedly be modified as operatives on
the ground gathered more experience, Christensen added.
"As the team works together they become more polished,
speedy all the time and hopefully so will our intelligence
delivery, that is, all the way out to the smallest unit that
can use it effectively," he said.
Canada's minority Conservative government says it will not
extend the mission beyond February 2009 without a mandate from
Parliament. All three opposition parties say they oppose the
idea of keeping troops in Afghanistan beyond the deadline.