This is from the Star. The change in focus will please the Liberals no doubt. The statement about the area where a Canadian was recently killed in ambush is a bit ironic. It said that a while back Canadians couldn't even go there. Now they can go there I guess but they will get ambushed!
Mission to change command, focus TheStar.com - Canada - Mission to change command, focus
MURRAY BREWSTER/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Brig. Gen. Dennis Thompson, shown here arriving at Kandahar Airfield May 7, 2008, says losses felt at CFB Petawawa make his job as next Canadian commander in Afghanistan personal to him.
But Canadian troops won't go on defensive, incoming leader says
May 08, 2008 Murray BrewsterTHE CANADIAN PRESS
KANDAHAR–There's a new general in town.
The next commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan hit the ground in Kandahar yesterday and says he believes the mission will take on a different flavour during his nine-month tour.
Brig.-Gen. Dennis Thompson says evolving conditions in the war-torn region mean there will be more emphasis on the civilian side of development and reconstruction.
He says there still will be a military aspect and doesn't expect the army will adopt a defensive posture just because the focus is shifting.
"There will be a change in emphasis, but I'm not prepared to say how much that will be (because) there are other players here," Thompson said, referring to the Taliban.
The Conservative government is refocusing the mission and setting down objectives to be achieved before the mission runs out in 2011.
Thompson will be laying the groundwork for that and for a civilian administration at the provincial reconstruction base that Canada operates in Kandahar city.
He's to replace Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, the current commander, in the near future.
Laroche said yesterday Kandahar province is safer than when he took over 10 months ago, noting the area where a Canadian medic was ambushed on foot patrol is one Canadians couldn't enter a year ago.
Thompson is former commander of the 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade at CFB Petawawa, a base that has suffered a lot of casualties, so that aspect of loss personalizes this assignment for him. "You tend to know an awful lot of people that are either injured or killed. It sharpens your focus and it makes you want to do everything you can to mitigate all of those risks."
Thompson arrived at Kandahar Airfield one day after Canada's 83rd soldier was killed in a shootout with the Taliban.
Cpl. Michael Starker, a Calgary reservist and medic, was killed on patrol with his Civil-Military Co-operation unit, which links to Afghan villages and serves as a bridge with the community.
The last wisps of a sandstorm blew across Kandahar Airfield's tarmac at dusk, as a Bison armoured vehicle carried Starker's flag-wrapped coffin to a silent phalanx of fellow soldiers last night.
Another soldier, wounded with Starker, sat in a wheelchair while eight fellow medics shouldered the coffin into a Hercules transport for the flight back to Canada, as deputy Canadian padre Maj. Jim Short remembered Starker's humble nature, charisma, gift for humour and "ability to hang in there until he had made you smile or laugh."
A repatriation ceremony for Starker is set for 2 p.m. tomorrow at CFB Trenton.