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

By: /
30 April, 2012


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.


Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter