Afghanistan has “huge problems” and NATO troops will be in the country for “years and years”, the commander of Canada’s forces in Afghanistan told a British newspaper. Major General Michel Gauthier, whose Canadian Expeditionary Force Command has taken a lead role in the hostile south of the country, made the warning to The Guardian daily. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is due to increase by about 6,000 troops in the coming months to number 16,000 to deploy in southern Afghanistan, where a US-led coalition of about 20,000 soldiers has been leading counter-insurgency operations. The incoming soldiers will be charged with reconstruction and fighting the drug trade in Helmand province, where remnants of the former Taliban regime and fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terror network and opium growers persist. The build-up of NATO troops in southern Afghanistan over the coming months is the alliance’s “biggest operational, and perhaps strategic, challenge in years, if not decades,” Gauthier said. He said southern Afghanistan was an “unpermissive environment” and the country was facing “huge problems”. Asked if NATO troops would be in Afghanistan for decades, he replied: “For years and years”. A bomb fixed […]

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