(May 21, 2012 - Chicago, Illinois)
In November 2010, Canada announced a new role for its continued engagement in Afghanistan to 2014. Building on the significant progress that has been achieved in the areas of security, diplomacy, human rights and development, Canada’s work in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2014 is focused on four key themes:
These priority areas build on Canada’s 2008 to 2011 programming efforts, support Afghan-developed priorities and sustain progress in key areas that are essential to Afghanistan’s future. Based on Afghan needs, these priorities have been identified as areas in which Canada can continue making a significant contribution to tangible progress in Afghanistan.
Focused on national programming and based out of Kabul, Canada’s efforts support Afghanistan’s and the international community’s long-term goal of transferring responsibility for security and governance to Afghanistan.
Canada’s training mission in Afghanistan supports the Afghan government’s and the international community’s goal of transferring the responsibility for Afghan security to Afghans by 2014. Building on our experience in developing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Canada deployed up to 950 Canadian Forces trainers and support personnel to Afghanistan to take part in Operation ATTENTION, the Canadian component of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A).
NTM-A, formed in November 2009, is a multinational organization supporting the Joint Command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It aims to consolidate, standardize and strengthen training and professional development delivered to the ANSF by ISAF.
The Canadian training effort is concentrated in Kabul. Canadian Forces members deliver training in areas such as leadership, health care, literacy improvement and the core professional skills of soldiers and police.
Canada has helped to significantly increase access to education (especially for women and girls) offered by skilled and knowledgeable education professionals in a safe and supportive learning environment. Thanks in part to Canadian investments, over seven million children are now enrolled in school. Canada is also supporting polio eradication and work to support health services for mothers and children. Alongside our international partners, Canada has provided polio vaccinations to over seven million children. Canada has trained over 1,450 health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers.
Canada provides support to human rights organizations, enhances Afghan capacity to maintain and enforce the rule of law, and provides technical assistance in the areas of infrastructure. Canadian development assistance also supports increased dialogue and cooperation among countries in the region, and improved management of cross-border challenges to regional stability, including through its continuing facilitation of the Afghanistan Pakistan Cooperation Process (APCP). Finally, Canada is investing in the delivery of food aid (including emergency food assistance) as well as support for refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons.
The reason for Canada’s decision to engage in the UN-sanctioned, NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan is clear: the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States represented an armed attack against all members of NATO.
For more than a decade, Afghanistan has been one of Canada’s top international policy priorities. Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan has been like no other in our history. 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. 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.
The first Canadian task force in Afghanistan was a battle group that deployed to Kandahar Province in January 2002 under Operation APOLLO and served in a combat role for six months.Under Operation ATHENA, Canada maintained a major whole-of-government effort including a substantial combat force as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), first in Kabul (August 2003–December 2005) and later in Kandahar Province (August 2005–July 2011). Operation ATHENA concluded with the Mission Transition Task Force (July–December 2011), which closed the combat task force.
In line with the Manley Report’s recommendations, 2008 marked a transformation of the mission, from one focused on military combat to an integrated and joint civil-military partnership which brought departments together in a whole-of-government approach focused on a shared set of six priorities and three signature projects (rehabilitating the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system, which created over 2,012 jobs, building and repairing 50 schools in Kandahar province, and eradicating polio). Canada is among the world's top donors to Afghanistan.
At its peak, approximately 2,950 Canadian soldiers and over 120 civilian personnel from a wide range of departments and agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency, Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service of Canada, and the RCMP and provincial and local polices services, were deployed to Afghanistan.
Canada has remained in Afghanistan to help Afghans and our allies to secure, rebuild and steer Afghanistan toward becoming a more stable, self-sustaining, prosperous country that will never again serve as a haven for terrorism.