Military: Canadian commander in Afghanistan relieved after 'inappropriate relationship'

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) — The chief of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard, has been relieved following allegations of an inappropriate relationship, the Canadian military said Sunday.

Canadian Col. Simon Hetherington said Menard's dismissal would not have an impact on the Canadian mission in southern Afghanistan, where NATO forces are fighting the Taliban. A major campaign is planned in and around Kandahar city in the coming months.

"Operations continue unabated," said Hetherington, acting commander.

The colonel said Lt. Gen. Marc Lessard, commander of Canadian forces abroad, had relieved Menard of his command because of an "alleged inappropriate personal relationship."

Hetherington gave no further details. An investigation was under way.

Menard has been on leave from Afghanistan for several weeks. On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty at a court-martial in Canada to accidentally firing his weapon at Kandahar Air Field in March and was fined.

Brig. Gen. Jon Vance will temporarily assume command of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, a job he held previously, the military said. He will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Dean Milner.

"There will not be a significant delay" in the leadership change, Hetherington said.

Canada has 2,800 troops in Afghanistan. Menard had also commanded NATO's Task Force Kandahar, which includes U.S. forces.

Bolstered by American plans to deploy more troops, Menard told The Associated Press in an interview in January that he believed NATO could defeat the Taliban in his area of operations by this summer. Kandahar is the Taliban's spiritual home and a focus of Afghanistan's insurgency.