Federal budget documents reveal over $1.1 billion of new funding is needed by the Canadian Armed Forces, in order to fulfill conditions placed on the Afghan mission extension.
With Parliament’s extension of the current mission contingent on the implementation of recommendations from the 2008 Manley commission report, an extra $822 million will be needed for the current budget year in order to do so. This is in addition to the $292 million requested last year for the procurement of six used Chinook helicopters from the U.S. Army, also on the recommendation of the Manley commission.
The requested funds are to be used for “basic infrastructure to support air enhancements” and “mission close out costs” associated with deploying helicopters and unmanned surveillance aircraft. “The helicopters and drones were two key requirements” of the Manley commission report that recommended Canada continue to engage in Afghanistan, “past the previous withdrawal date of February 2009.”
The mission in Afghanistan was extended by Parliament with little debate on the actual cost of the extension. According to The Canadian Press, this is the first time a cost has been associated with the recommendations of the Manley report, which was tabled in January 2008. The final tally for the two-year extension is still being calculated by National Defence.
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Manley conditions add $1.1 billion to Afghan costs
By The Canadian Press
Wed. May 27 – 12:18 PM
OTTAWA — Fulfilling the Manley commission’s conditions to extend Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan to 2011 will cost more than $1.1 billion, say federal budget documents.
The Conservative government is asking for an extra $822 million in the current budget year to pay for “basic infrastructure to support air enhancements” and “mission close out costs.”
That request is in addition to the $292 million set aside last year for six used Chinook CH-47D helicopters from the U.S. Army.
The final price tag for the two-year extension, which would include troops and armoured vehicles, is still being worked out by National Defence.
The latest request before Parliament refers to the operational expenses of deploying helicopters and unmanned surveillance aircraft to support ground forces, said a spokesman for the Canadian Forces Expeditionary Force Command, the headquarters that oversees the war.
“Additional funding was required to support the air wing in Kandahar,” said spokesman Capt. Dean Menard.
“These initiatives were implemented to support the Manley (commission) recommendations concerning the Canadian-Afghan mission.”
The helicopters and drones were two key requirements of the independent panel that recommended Ottawa continue the fight in southern Afghanistan past the previous withdrawal date of February 2009.
It’s the first time a price tag has been affixed to the Manley conditions, which were tabled in January 2008.
When Parliament debated the extension a few months later, scant attention was paid to the cost. Instead, MPs — divided along political lines — chose to debate the more high-minded aspects of the mission and whether it was succeeding.
In the end, the Conservative government, backed by the Liberal opposition, voted to stay in Kandahar.
And that is the bottom line, said a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
“Parliament decided to extend the Afghanistan military mission based on certain criteria, including the addition of Canadian air assets in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters,” Jay Paxton said in an email note.