Lagassé: What is the biggest lesson Canada can take from its experience in Afghanistan?

By: /
30 April, 2012
By: Philippe Lagassé
Assistant professor of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

Ambition is not enough.

Canada’s contribution to the Afghan war was both impressive and significant, given the relatively small size of the forces it deployed and the challenges the Canadian military faced. Yet Canadian decision-makers should acknowledge that they took on too much when the Canadian Forces were asked to secure Kandahar. Although the Canadian military performed valiantly, it was not a counter-insurgency mission that was well-suited to a force of 3000 soldiers with certain key capability gaps.

Although some will retort that Canada pulled its weight in Kandahar and that the CF managed to hold the province until sizeable reinforcements arrived, we should question whether the deployment was based on a proper assessment of the risks and operational requirements, or if it was a decision which was disproportionately influenced by an over ambitious sense of what could be achieved.

Indeed, we might ask this question about the overall American and NATO effort in Afghanistan.

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