Gates: Canada's Afghanistan role key

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Canada's contributions to the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are a key to success, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.

Speaking Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the Halifax International Security Forum, Gates praised Canadian contributions in Afghanistan, especially in the strategic southern province of Kandahar, where Canadian forces have seen fierce fighting.


"In Afghanistan, the Canadian military has more than distinguished itself in battle in some of the most dangerous parts of the country," Gates said. "Canada has been a major contributor to the international military coalition, with more than 2,800 troops currently deployed, plus a strong commitment to support future development and governance efforts."

Gates noted that "with more than 130 fallen heroes, among the highest of coalition members on a per-capita basis, the Canadian army has certainly paid the price and borne a heavy burden in Afghanistan."

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay told reporters more allied forces were needed to help secure Kandahar, but, as Gates and the Obama administration deliberate on how much to increase Afghanistan troop levels, he didn't specifically mention U.S. troops, the Los Angeles Times reported.


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