Peter MacKay, minister of national defence, lays a wreath at during the Battle of Britain ceremony at the Canadian Space and Aviation Museum Sunday, September 18, 2011.
Credits: DARREN BROWN/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA -- Amid increased violence from within the ranks of Afghan forces against NATO trainers, Defence Minister Peter MacKay warns there is no guarantee Canadian soldiers will stay safe.
"We're not naive," MacKay said. "We can't eliminate risk altogether. This is a highly volatile part of the world."
At least 51 alliance soldiers have been killed this year when Afghan police or soldiers turned their weapons on their NATO mentors.
As a result, NATO has ordered a temporary cutback in joint operations with Afghan forces on the front lines of combat in Afghanistan.
While commanders are always working to reduce the risks trainers face, MacKay says Canadian trainers have an advantage as they work in and around the capital, Kabul.
"Canada does not participate in joint operations," MacKay said. "Our training is done ... on static bases behind the wire, so we are insulated from these changes as far as joint operations."
The minister also points to other factors that have kept Canadian troops safer.
"It's partly the intent of the Taliban in who they're targeting," MacKay said. He added that screening of Afghan trainees is becoming more effective, too.
Meantime, NATO says the slowdown in its joint operations with Afghan forces won't prevent the alliance from handing over full responsibility for national security to Afghanistan in 2014.
"The fact that it is possible, as a temporary measure, to suspend some partnered activities reflects that Afghan security forces are able to operate on their own," NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
-- with files from Reuters