When Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan began in partnership with the international community following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was a country suffering from 30 years of unrest as a result of the Soviet occupation, civil war, extreme poverty, and the grip of an ideological force. The latter was actively oppressing its people while providing a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, which has now been destroyed in Afghanistan. Its economy had collapsed; its people were among the most impoverished in the world.
In the ten years following the tragic terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 (9/11), Canada has worked with the international community and Afghans to strengthen Afghanistan’s security, governance and development—and our contributions and the results of these efforts over the past decade have been considerable.
Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan has been like no other in our history. Unlike a conventional war where only fighting forces are deployed, the Government of Canada embraced a whole-of-government approach in Afghanistan so that we could more effectively address the complexities involved in fighting a modern counter-insurgency war while helping to rebuild a country.
This meant deploying soldiers to fight insurgents operating throughout the Afghan province of Kandahar and secure the province—the birthplace of the Taliban and the heart of the insurgency. At the same time, it also meant deploying civilian experts with specialized skills to help the Afghan people build their capacity in key areas, most notably in democratic governance and the delivery of basic services; education and training; health care; human rights and the rule of law, including policing, corrections and the judiciary; humanitarian assistance; border security; and Afghan-led political reconciliation efforts.
This fourteenth and final report reflects on the challenges confronted and achievements made by Canada, the Afghan government and many other partners, in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan, during the period 2008–2011.
It also reminds Canadians of the work that Canada is undertaking as part of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan during the period 2011–2014.