Canada’s Failures in AfghanistanStephanie ClearyPhillipsCHC2DJanuary 9, 2018Stephanie ClearyMr.
PhillipsCHC2D09 January 2018How Canada Failed in Afghanistan In an overly political state where relations between countries were tense and everyone in the West was on edge due to the recent attack on the twin towers of 9/11, it comes as no surprise that coalition troops deployed to the Middle East after the Bon Accord. The decision to go to war with the United States was made due to Canada’s own security and international commitments. The first phase, Operation Apollo, was launched in support of the American-led Operation Enduring Freedom with the intent of overthrowing the Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaeda, which had used Afghanistan as a launch pad for their terror attacks. Canada’s Operation Medusa is significant due to the fact that although it was difficult, Canadian troops had successfully completed their mission for the majority on their own, allowing Afghanistan, for a short time, be relieved of the Taliban extremism. The United Nations became hopeful for the up and coming presidential ballot to be relatively free from violence and corruption which ultimately was not the case, with many polling stations having been attacked. Canada made mistakes along the way, such as communicating incorrectly or in insufficient detail, ultimately giving insight to how desperately Canada was needed elsewhere. These small mistakes led to leaving with the door open for Taliban, al-Qaeda, and a new force, ISIS, to come into power.
The efforts of Canada, admitted from many of the participants, were presumably more of a failure than a success. Historically, the Canadian infantry had encountered communication issues in previous battles, comparatively, the communication issues in Afghanistan led to a multitude of misunderstandings from the public. According to Washington Post author, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the United States felt that if they were to push Ottawa to send more troops into Kandahar city, they would be “dictating” to Canadians, adding on that Canadian troops were “reluctant” to ask for help. For example, in an interview with Huffington Post, military historian and author, Jack Granatstein talked about how the notion from Chandrasekaran was “ludicrous”, after the abandonment by the Americans to fight in favour of Iraq. After Chandrasekaran criticized Canada for having eight-hundred troops in Kandahar province, Granatstein said “That’s wrong,” adding “We repeatedly tried to get assistance. Basically, no help came.” Although the statements from Chandrasekaran were believed by many, Granatstein’s input brings more light to the matter, along with the evidence from a “secret” report of September 2006. Amid Canada’s Operation Medusa, Canadian Brigade General David Fraser had appealed for more “on-the-ground” coalition troops.
Gaining a solid perspective is necessary for clear communication in any operation is integral for the success of any mission, it would be perceived Canada began to lose this piece as others were “defining the mission for them.” Secondly, the opinion of Granatstein and David Bercuson noted Canadians were poorly prepared for the war in the Middle East, unknowing of what lied in Afghanistan, and were better suited elsewhere, such as Lebanon and Darfur. On August 11th, 2006, U.N. Security Council imposed a ceasefire on Hezbollah and Israel. This authorized operations of fifteen thousand soldiers with a robust mandate to “use all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” From 2003-06, two hundred thousand had been killed, countless women had been raped and several million had been forced from their homes in Darfur.
The agents- the Janjaweed and the Sudanese- wouldn’t be able to stand against the CAF, nonetheless the Western militaries. Canada was conspicuously absent, yet had a clear national interest in maintaining the ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel. The Middle East conflict in Darfur has the potential to escalate into a highly destabilizing war with Iran, involving attacks on nuclear facilities. Moreover, Canadians have personal connections with Israel and Lebanon than Afghanistan.
Canadian soldiers are uniquely suited to peacekeeping in Lebanon in addition to the considerable experience and training Canadians have for such missions. The Canadian Forces have the necessary language skills, as Israelis mostly speak English, while Lebanese mostly speak French. Although Canadian troops had successfully completed Operation Medusa, the Taliban was not overthrown, and agreements were made to keep part of the Taliban in power. Part of Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan- $450 million over the next three years- was intended to tackle their issues with half the money earmarked for security.
However, the Afghan National Army (ANA) remain some of the most underpaid, badly trained personnel in the world, with a literacy rate stuck at a dismal 20%. Conversely, new Taliban, and affiliated ISIS recruits are, in some cases, upwards around $950 per month, and the Afghan government cannot compete. For instance, Taliban and ISIS militants inside the ANA has become an issue, according to security experts, runs much deeper. As the presence in Afghanistan dwindled, as did foreign aid. Those who once made a decent living working for what once was the world’s largest development operation, again find themselves out of work and desperate.
An anonymous Interior Ministry official to Maclean’s, is quoted as saying: “The investigation is looking at weaknesses in the security procedures.” and “There are some early indications that the attackers may have received help from elements inside the security forces.” Referring to an attack where more than 150 people were killed and 413 were wounded by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in a diplomatic quarter in Kabul on 31 May 2017. This took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour, days into the Muslim holy celebration of Ramadan, making it the deadliest attack since an ISIS suicide bomber killed 100 people at a protest the summer prior.
Ultimately, the attempts to dismantle and ‘dethrone’ the Taliban regime, the efforts created more havoc throughout Afghanistan, subsequently the creation of ISIS resulted. Although no group has claimed responsibility, a VBIED went undetected into one of Kabul’s most important districts, during Ramadan and detonated. In conclusion, the agreements between Canada and the UN to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban created more issues than Canada was prepared to deal with which was looked upon as an international failure. Firstly, Operation Medusa was filled with faulty tactics and gave an incorrect image to the rest of the coalitions. In addition, Canadian troops were unprepared for multiple conditions in Kandahar province, which led to the realization that Canadians were best deployed elsewhere. Canadians were the best suited, as Afghanistan was filled with a lot more cultural and language borders than Lebanon and Darfur, and were better prepared for the cultural knowledge and conditions they would have faced in both.
Operation Medusa did not have the lasting effects coalition forces had hoped for, thus allowing the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS to take rise throughout the Middle East and Europe. The majority of terrorist attacks in recent years were claimed by ISIS, had they been responsible or not.Canada intervening in Afghanistan was one of Canada’s first counterinsurgency wars and faced the same issues that confronted other modern armies. Counterinsurgency conflicts are almost impossible to resolve on the battlefield and require political resolutions. Canada made great sacrifices deploying to Afghanistan for good reasons: National security and International response to al-Qaeda’s threat, projecting Canada’s values and ethics, democracy, rule of law, and an attempt to give Afghans a chance at a functioning state. Canada, although faced unattainable tasks, made a difference that otherwise would never have been available for Afghanistan.
Although never definitive, International Forces do review the long term effects of operations and political influence do on the international stage which prepare forces in different tactics to overcome situations. Works Cited”How Canada Failed in Afghanistan.” OpenCanada, www.opencanada.org/features/how-canada-failed-in-afghanistan/.”TAYLOR: Canada failed in Afghanistan, officer says.
” The Chronicle Herald, 28 Feb. 2016, thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1345559-taylor-canada-failed-in-afghanistan-officer-says.Byers, Michael.
“Afghanistan: Wrong Mission for Canada.” The Tyee, The Tyee, 6 Oct. 2006, thetyee.
ca/Views/2006/10/06/Afghanistan/.”SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN HIZBOLLAH, ISRAEL, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1701 (2006) | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases.” United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/press/en/2006/sc8808.
doc.htm.”What Canada did – and did not – achieve in Afghanistan.” The Globe and Mail, 25 Mar. 2017, www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/now-that-our-war-in-afghanistan-is-over/article17501889/.