Afghan training mission has high risk of casualties, low chance of success

April 11, 2011

OTTAWA—The government’s plan to extend the Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan deserves a public debate, argues a new report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Rideau Institute.

Analysts Michael Byers and Stuart Webb determine that the new training mission, first proposed by the Liberals then adopted by the Conservatives, poses many dangers to Canadian soldiers:

  • All military operations carry inherent risks of accidents and “friendly-fire”;
  • Recruitment and training centres have repeatedly been targeted for attacks by insurgents;
  • Canadian soldiers may be expected to provide security perimeters around their bases, exposing them to attack;
  • Training will likely require operations in the field, “outside the wire,” where a training mission could quickly turn into actual combat with insurgents;
  • And most alarmingly, insurgents have already infiltrated the ranks of recruits for the Afghan National Army, and have turned their guns on foreign military trainers inside training facilities.

The report concludes that despite Prime Minister Harper’s stated intention of ensuring a “safer” mission for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, numerous Canadian soldiers will likely be killed or permanently injured, and the mission will ultimately not be successful.

“Although they won’t admit it, most Western governments have already given up on the country,” said co-author Michael Byers. “The training mission is clearly an exit strategy that will cost more Canadians their lives.”

The authors worry that the election has pre-empted a proper public discussion of the mission. “Canadians need to be made aware of the risks of this mission,” added co-author Stewart Webb.


For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341.