Major General James Ferron, the commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) today said that a lot of work remained to be done in Afghanistan, ahead of the proposed withdrawal.Maj Gen Ferron, who is also the Deputy Commanding General of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A) said that the Canadian troops are no longer concentrating on combat operations and said that they are giving preference to the infrastructure reconstruction efforts, so that the socio-economic conditions inside the war-torn country get better.
Maj Gen Ferron claimed that there is a visible improvement in the socio-economic conditions and infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan, during the last five years. He claimed that during the same period, there was also considerable enhancement in the Literacy rate and the employment level of the local population. However, he claimed that the progress will be slow, as the country is yet to recover from many decades of fighting.
Currently more than 1,000 Canadian servicemen are deployed as a part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), most of them based in and around the southern city of Kandahar. Since the start of the deployment in January 2002, a total of 158 Canadian soldiers have lost their lives, which is the third highest casualty figure for any ISAF participant. Earlier a large number of Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and military aircrafts served under the Canadian contingent. Recently most of them have been withdrawn, after the combat role for the contingent was reduced.
Canadian officials have announced that they will continue to provide military trainers to the Afghan national army even after the proposed combat troop withdrawal in 2014. They have also hinted that more effort will be put in rebuilding the schools and hospitals in the region, which were destroyed during the numerous battles and conflicts which had engulfed Afghanistan for the last 40 years.