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Canadian special forces homeward bound-JTF2

John Nayduk

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Canadian special forces homeward bound

Canadian Press

Wednesday, November 27 â “ Online Edition, Posted at 8:20 PM EST

Ottawa â ” Canada's special forces are on their way home from Afghanistan, the last Canadian ground troops to leave the country.

JTF-2, Canada's small and secretive special forces unit, pulled out recently, Defence Minister John McCallum said after a Commons defence committee meeting Wednesday.

"Their ability to do amazing physical acts â ” it is quite something," Mr. McCallum said, adding he hopes more can be divulged later.

"We have to balance these two things â ” I think Canadians would like to know this group is capable of doing amazing things. We also have to be highly conscious of the security side."

Mr. McCallum said the force, based outside Ottawa, is currently at 300, nearing the doubled capacity targeted in the last budget.

Canada's 850-member battle group left Afghanistan in July after six months. The battle group participated in four combat operations and conducted security patrols around the Kandahar base.

But the special forces contribution has been largely kept from the public eye, with the notable exception of the capture of several al-Qaeda fighters last winter. The detainees were turned over to U.S. forces.

Some JTF-2 personnel have arrived home, others will be home in the next several days, said General Ray Henault, chief of defence staff.

Gen. Henault said the military would like to tell JTF-2's story, but details have to be worked out to protect their security.

"In general, I think we're excessively secretive in this country," Mr. McCallum told the defence committee. "The Americans have special forces that they publicize quite a lot.

"We always have to be acutely conscious of security risks but I'm hoping that there may be ways of providing more information to Canadians about the fine achievements of these people. We haven't got there yet."

At the committee, Mr. McCallum outlined a rough plan for defence funding, saying he wants money enough to pay the bills â ” about $1-billion added to the $12-billion defence budget.

Mr. McCallum, who is completing a defence update, said he would then look at a full-fledged review, which could take a six months to a year.

"Priority No. 1, in the next two or three months, let's get some money ... quickly so that we can be sustainable doing what we are currently doing," the minister said.

Large organizations like the Canadian Forces don't turn on a dime, said Mr. McCallum, a former Royal Bank economist.

"There is always waste," he said. "We can request more resources but we also have to make sure that we are getting the best possible value for every dollar we spend."

Mr. McCallum said his plan for an administrative review using private-sector auditors will be implemented within a few weeks and he hopes to have a report within six months.

"I have a duty to the taxpayer as well as to the military to spend smart and not just spend a lot," he said.

Alliance defence critic Leon Benoit dismissed Mr. McCallum's testimony as long on platitudes and short on specifics.

"Canadians deserve answers to some of these important questions."

But retired colonel Alain Pellerin, head of the Conference of Defence Associations, a 70-year-old defence think-tank, said Mr. McCallum's staged funding plan makes sense.

"That's what we've recommended in our most recent study," he said. "The first phase should address the immediate shortfall, to address the sustainability issue. After that, you need to do a full defence policy review."

The group has recommended $1.5-billion in immediate funding.
Good article. Its about time they told the stories of the JTF2. It does 2 things, promotes pride in the forces and tell our enemies we have a capable anti-terrorist organization.

I hope he can get the funding he has mentioned.