Newspaper article The Canadian Press

One Year after Canadian Withdrawal, 400 Military Containers Still in Kandahar

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

One Year after Canadian Withdrawal, 400 Military Containers Still in Kandahar

Article excerpt

Canadian military supplies stuck in Kandahar

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OTTAWA - The war may be over, but the cleanup is still underway.

Nearly 400 shipping containers full of Canadian military supplies remain stuck in Kandahar more than a year after Canada's withdrawal from the war-torn province was declared complete, federal documents show.

National Defence says the material is considered low priority and that all high-value and sensitive equipment has been returned to Canada.

But the delay, brought on by the extended closure of the Afghan border with Pakistan, has turned into a long, costly logistics nightmare for the military, which was counting on having everything home and in good order to fully re-equip and refurbish the army.

"All of it still has residual value that in cost and time terms means it's worth hanging on to," said Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, the commander of the country's foreign and domestic operations.

Beare said the absence of the material -- including tires, spare parts, tents and other gear -- does not directly impede the army's regeneration.

But documents obtained under access to information laws show the Canadian government has faced increased withdrawal costs because the containers still have to be stored and guarded at yards adjacent to Kandahar Airfield, where space in is short supply at NATO's biggest and busiest base in south Afghanistan.

"The on-going closure of the Pakistan border continues to represent a significant cost to the (Canadian Forces) in the form of shortage and potential increased transit costs" for the remaining containers, said a May 17, 2012 briefing prepared for former chief of defence staff Walt Natynczyk, prior to the reopening of the border.

Pakistan cut off NATO's supply lines through its country in November 2011 after a U.S. air raid mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and the border remained shut until July 2012.

Beare said Canada has not received any shipments since the lines reopened last summer, and they are in a queue organized by NATO.

"I won't speculate on when they''ll move, but at some point if they can't come out fast enough, then we'll have to look for alternative solutions," he said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. …

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