(No. 365 - November 16, 2010 - 1 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today announced a new role for Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan that will build on significant progress in the areas of security, diplomacy, human rights and development.
“Building on strengths and accomplishments over the past years, Canada is committed to helping build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists,” said Minister Cannon. “The combat mission will end in 2011. As we continue to work alongside the Afghan people and the international community, Canada will continue to play an important role in supporting efforts toward a better future for all Afghans.”
Canada’s new non-combat role will focus on four key areas: investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through education and health; advancing security, the rule of law and human rights; promoting regional diplomacy; and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
After 2011, Canadian Forces personnel will be deployed as part of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) to continue training Afghan National Security Forces in a non-combat role, until March 2014. Canada will provide up to 950 military trainers and support personnel. Canada will work with allies to determine how proven Canadian expertise can further contribute to a disciplined and effective Afghanistan security force, which is essential for the security of Afghans and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
“Since this mission began, Canada, along with our international partners, has helped to train and mentor about 50,000 Afghan troops. The post-2011 non-combat training mission will further contribute to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security,” said Minister MacKay. “The legacy of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan will endure in a professional Afghan National Security Forces capable of providing a more secure and stable environment for the Afghan people.”
This chapter in Canada’s engagement will also include contributions aimed at improving the lives of Afghan women, as well as support to the G-8 Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
“The future of Afghanistan resides in the hands of women, children and youth,” said Minister Oda. “Thanks in part to our investments, we have achieved significant progress in helping improve life for women and children, but more progress is required, especially in Afghanistan’s education and health sectors. Canada will continue to place an important focus on women in its development work in Afghanistan.”
In making the announcement, the ministers paid tribute to the enormous contributions and sacrifices Canadians have made in all areas of endeavour in Afghanistan over the decade, from security and development to governance, institution building and diplomacy.
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The following backgrounders provide more information on Canada’s new role in Afghanistan.
For further information, media representatives may contact:
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Canada’s new role in Afghanistan will build on the accomplishments of Canada’s mission over the past 10 years. Our objective in Afghanistan remains the same: to help build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.
Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan post-2011 will be centred on Kabul and will focus on four key areas:
Based on Afghan needs and the international community’s efforts, these priorities have been identified as areas where Canada can make a significant further contribution to tangible progress in Afghanistan. In addition, these initiatives will contribute to improving the lives of Afghan women.
Canada is committed to helping the Afghan people build a country that is better governed and more secure. The facts on the ground indicate that the Afghan security forces need further training. At the Kabul Conference in July of this year, the Afghan government and international allies, including Canada, agreed that training is the key to transition. Without training there can be no transition. By continuing to train more and better Afghan security forces, the goal is to hand lead responsibility for security back to Afghans after 2014.
Canada will continue its involvement by delivering training programs at NATO training facilities. Ours will be a non-combat training role.
Canada’s renewed engagement builds on Canada’s experience and investments in Afghanistan to date, supports Afghan-developed priorities, and sustains progress in key areas essential to Afghanistan’s future.
The estimated cost of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014 is $700 million a year over three years, although final costs will not be known until after 2014.
Children and youth are Afghanistan’s greatest resource. Using effective and accountable development assistance, Canada will continue to invest in education and health, building on our significant contribution to date in these areas.
Education: Canada will continue to play a lead role in enabling the Government of Afghanistan to improve access to quality primary and secondary education for Afghans, especially for girls and young women. We will also continue to help improve the transparency and accountability of the Afghan national educational sector to help foster a safe learning environment.
Health: Canada will assist the Government of Afghanistan in improving maternal, newborn and child health. Canada will also continue to be a leading donor to polio eradication in Afghanistan. This support includes Canada’s commitment to the G-8 Muskoka Initiative, launched in June 2010, to reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under-age-5 child deaths in developing countries.
We will build on our expertise and leadership in security and the rule of law, as well as our reputation as a respected partner in the promotion and protection of human rights. Canada will remain committed to advancing gender equality, a core Canadian value, through development programming and diplomatic engagement.
Human rights and justice: Respect for the rights of Afghan citizens and equal access to institutions that uphold these rights is fundamental to Afghanistan’s security, the Government of Afghanistan’s accountability, and the strengthening of Afghan civil society. Canada will build on its investments in human rights promotion and protection, and justice sector capacity building, through targeted initiatives with a particular focus on the needs of women.
Civilian police: Providing effective police services to local populations not only addresses security concerns, but also builds trust between the community, the police and the government. Canada will help strengthen institutional capacity, support anti-corruption efforts, and improve civilian policing skills.
Security forces capacity: The Canadian Forces (CF) will support training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by providing up to 950 trainers and support personnel to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan at facilities centred on Kabul. This training mission will build on the CF’s established expertise in ANSF development, thereby contributing to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security.
Canada will continue to facilitate dialogue and advance concrete activities to improve cooperation among the countries in the region, in particular between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the G-8 president in 2010, Canada launched the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Regional Prosperity Initiative, building on the successful Canadian-led Dubai Process, which supports border cooperation between the two countries, including enhancing customs, immigration, law enforcement and counter-narcotics arrangements. Canada is well placed to continue this leading role and will further support projects that counter violent extremism in border regions.
Millions of Afghans still remain vulnerable to chronic food insecurity and natural disasters. Therefore, support for emergency and food assistance remains a necessity. Canada’s investment in Afghanistan’s mine action program will continue to protect innocent civilians and return land to Afghans for productive use. Non-food humanitarian assistance will provide additional assistance to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable Afghans affected by conflict.
A significant part of Canada’s contribution to security in Afghanistan to date has been the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
The Kabul Conference, held in July 2010, launched the process of transition to Afghan-led responsibility for security by 2014. However, this requires both an increase in the numbers of Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) officers, as well as an improvement in their professional and technical abilities.
By continuing to train the ANA and ANP, Canada will be helping to build the kind of disciplined and effective security force needed to ensure stability and promote peace and economic development for the Afghan people. The facts on the ground indicate that the Afghan military needs further training. Achieving Canada’s ultimate objectives in Afghanistan depends on improved security. That is why Canada’s training efforts will continue until March of 2014.
The Afghan government and international partners have agreed on the development of a transition process to enable Afghanistan to assume lead responsibility for security after 2014. Canada will continue its involvement in training by delivering training programs centred on Kabul in the context of the NATO mission. Ours will be a non-combat training role.
The Canadian Forces (CF) will support ANSF training by providing up to 950 trainers to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). This training mission will build upon the CF’s established expertise in training the ANSF, thereby contributing to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security.
Providing effective police services to local populations not only helps address security concerns, but also builds trust between the community, the police, and the central government. Canada will deploy Canadian civilian police officers and policy advisers to strengthen institutional capacity and support anti-corruption efforts.
Civilian police: Through the deployment of up to 45 civilian police officers, Canada will continue its involvement in police reform by leading training programs, promoting the establishment of accountability and civilian oversight mechanisms, and advancing institutional reform and capacity building.
Still and video b-roll of NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan imagery is available in the NTM-A gallery at Canadian Forces Image Gallery.
Canada is in Afghanistan as part of a UN-mandated, NATO-led mission with more than 60 other countries and international organizations, at the request of the democratically elected Afghan government. Canada’s objective is to help Afghans build a more secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.
Canada’s contribution in Afghanistan has focused to date on:
Canada has made a positive difference in the lives of the Afghan people. Although Afghanistan remains a volatile and challenging environment, we have made real progress. Our key achievements so far include: