Skip to main content
Start of content

NDDN Committee Report

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at



Question: What is the most important thing Afghans need right now?

Answer: We need security, electricity and clean water.

Ahmadsha, from Kandahar City
Provincial Reconstruction Team website at May 2007.


While much of this report tends to concentrate on the mission as we found it late in 2006 and early 2007, the Committee wants to highlight the point that the Canadian Forces returned to Kandahar in the summer of 2005, to take over the PRT. Then in early 2006, Brigadier-General David Fraser and the 1 PPCLI Battle Group deployed to lead ISAF operations against the Taliban, who had been re-establishing their forces in Kandahar Province ever since they were ejected by the US in 2001.

Upon his arrival in February 2006, Brigadier-General Fraser took command of the Multinational Brigade in Regional Command South, including a complement of US forces under command.[1] During the height of summer fighting the Multinational Brigade conducted a transition to ISAF command while simultaneously rotating fresh troops from Canada. Canadian troops assisted UK forces getting into Helmand (Major Bill Fletcher went to Sangin, originally for five days, but was finally brought out after five weeks), and other Canadian elements assisted the Dutch deployment into Uruzugan Province, flying about 1,000 Dutch soldiers in Canadian C130 Hercules aircraft. Canadian troops received extensive accolades from the US, UK and the Netherlands. Not much of this was known at home.

In September 2006, Op Medusa was ISAF’s first major military operation and its aim was to clear Taliban insurgents from a fortified position in Pashmul, about 30 km west of Kandahar City. It was a success, led by Canadians. Press reports indicated that, in the first few days of fighting, more than 200 insurgents were killed and about 80 captured. Another insurgent group of about 180 fled.[2] The Taliban had threatened to take Kandahar and defeat NATO in the process, but it was the insurgents who were defeated. Canadian troops beat them. This was the Taliban’s first defeat in this area since 2001, according to the Afghanistan Ministry of Defence and the Chief of the Afghan armed forces.

Op Baaz Tsuka (Falcon Summit) followed, in December 2006. It built on the success of Op Medusa and aimed to establish an enduring and stable environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and development initiatives for the people of the Zhari and Panjwayi districts. Operations were carried out in conjunction with Afghan National Security forces. ISAF and Afghan military forces worked together with tribal elders and district leaders in an effort to provide assistance and targeted development directly to the people of Zhari and Panjwayi.[3] This operation too was successful in driving insurgents away, so that development and reconstruction activity could begin.

The Taliban did not achieve any of their objectives in 2006.[4] By the end of the year, General David Richards, the ISAF Commander, was able to note that in three of the five ISAF Regions, there was more than a 40% reduction in attacks on ISAF troops in December 2006, compared with December 2005. As well, the overall insurgent incident total dropped from a peak of 913 in August to a low of 342 in December 2006.

All this is recent history, however. It will be helpful to go back a bit and review how we got to where we are today.


The Bonn Agreement[5] called for an Interim Authority to be established in Afghanistan on December 22, 2001. In addition to asking for the assistance of the international community in the establishment and training of new Afghan security and armed forces, and in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan's infrastructure, the Agreement included an explicit invitation from the Interim Authority for the deployment of a UN-mandated military force to assist in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its surrounding areas.

On December 20, 2001, UN Security Council Resolution 1386 (2001) authorized the establishment of ISAF to help the Interim Authority maintain security in Kabul. ISAF could, as appropriate, expand to other urban centres and areas.[6] Then, on 22 December 2001, the first of the ISAF troops were deployed, under British control.

By early February 2003, Canada had been asked to participate in ISAF. Then Minister of National Defence, The Honourable John McCallum, told the House of Commons:

[…] Canada has been approached by the international community for assistance in maintaining peace and security in Afghanistan for the UN mandated mission in Kabul. Canada is willing to serve with a battle group and a brigade headquarters for a period of one year, starting late this summer. We are currently in discussion with a number of potential partners.[7]

In April 2003, Minister McCallum explained in the House of Commons, “ […]we are very proud that we will be sending 1,500 to 2,000 troops to Afghanistan for six months and another 1,500 to 2,000 for the following six months.”[8] Canadian troops were on the ground later that summer and the Canadian contingent provided the bulk of ISAF forces in Kabul. About the same time, in August 2003, NATO took over command of ISAF and the UN Security Council authorized ISAF to deploy its forces beyond Kabul, to help stabilize the security situation and allow the extension of the government’s authority throughout the country.

In support of ISAF expansion, the Canadian government decided to re-deploy the Canadian Forces personnel from Kabul to Kandahar, to take over a US Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in 2005. The Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of National Defence at the time, explained to the House of Commons:

[…] we have decided, with our NATO allies, to increase Canada's military commitment to Afghanistan over the next several months. In fact, by early next year, our military presence and role in Afghanistan will be greater and more varied than it has been to date, notwithstanding significant contributions over the past three years […]

Canada chose to deploy a provincial reconstruction team to Kandahar, because we have been there before. We know the region well. It is also one of the provinces most in need of security and rebuilding […]

In February, the Canadian Forces will also be deploying into Kandahar a brigade headquarters of about 350 persons that will command the multinational force there for nine months. At the same time, we will be deploying a task force of about 1,000 troops into Kandahar for one year […]

Earlier, when he visited Afghanistan on 12 October 2005, Minister Graham had noted in a press conference:

I think there’s no question but that the mission in Kandahar is a much more dangerous mission […] We’ve always said that […] we were under no allusions that this would be an easy PRT […] So our troops were ready and prepared to face the fact that they may have to face attacks […] it will be more in the nature of a combat mission where they will be out looking for people who are doing exactly this type of thing to try and destabilize the country and they’ll be on the lookout for them. That’s going to be their job is to go out and meet them in the field and destroy them and destroy their capacity to attack our troops and to attack innocent Afghan people.[9]

A change in the government brought no substantial change in the mission. In summarizing his remarks to the House of Commons during a debate on the Afghanistan deployment, The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of National Defence said, “Our Canadian Forces are in Afghanistan because it is in our national interest, because we have the responsibility to take a leadership role in world affairs and because Afghans need us and want us to help them.” On May 30, 2006, appearing before the Committee, he was more explicit:

Canada is in Afghanistan to ensure the security of Canadians… .

[W]e need to address threats to our security before they reach our shores. Canada therefore has a responsibility to ensure that the extremists who would harm us and our allies can no longer find refuge in Afghanistan ….

We're also in Afghanistan in support of our friends and allies in the G-8, NATO, and the United Nations, who all consider Afghanistan a priority. As a responsible member of the international community….

And third, Canada is in Afghanistan for the sake of the Afghan people.

He also noted that the conditions outlined in the Afghanistan Compact[10] would provide the measures of success for the mission:

As part of our commitment to Afghanistan, Canada signed the Afghanistan Compact, which clearly outlines how the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations, and the international community will work together over the next five years to ensure that the multilateral efforts in Afghanistan are successful. The compact also clearly identifies benchmarks against which to evaluate progress made in Afghanistan.

We should remember however, that within Canada’s overall mission in Afghanistan, National Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development all have their own different — but hopefully complementary — priorities. Specific tasks must be coordinated in order to be effective.

In summary, Canada’s overall effort in Afghanistan has been endorsed by successive UN Security Council Resolutions, for the past five years. The most recent Security Council Resolution, 1746 of March 23, 2007, extended mandate of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan and ISAF until March 23, 2008.


The Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan has been somewhat misunderstood by Canadians, subject to unbalanced reporting by the media and inadequately explained by the government.

The mission never has been and never will be a peacekeeping mission. This is not a mission in which Canada is an impartial observer. We have chosen to stand with the democratically elected Government of Afghanistan and against the insurgency that opposes it.

It is also important to understand that Canada is not the ‘lead’ nation. The UN coordinates activity of the international community in Afghanistan. The security agenda is largely managed by ISAF. While Canada provides the leadership of the Kandahar PRT, the PRT is not a “Canadian” entity per se. The Kandahar PRT is an ISAF element. The PRT exists to facilitate the delivery of development and reconstruction from any international donor, not just Canadian agencies. While Canada can certainly provide development and reconstruction support through the PRT, it does not control all PRT reconstruction activity.

Canadian Brigadier‑General Tim Grant exercises national command over the Canadian Forces in theatre, on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Brigadier-General Grant also exercises operational command over the Canadian Forces elements in Afghanistan that have been assigned to NATO operational control, which means that while Canada retains ultimate command over the Canadian Forces in theatre, the operational plans and orders come through the NATO chain of command, all the way from the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, to ISAF in Afghanistan. Brigadier-General Grant therefore takes his operational orders from the Commander, Regional Command South — currently a British Major‑General.


The total extent of the Canadian Forces commitments in support of Afghanistan operations have never been fully appreciated by Canadians at large. The roster is impressive in both substance and variety.

Operation[11] APOLLO

Op Apollo was Canada's original military contribution to the campaign against terrorism.

On September 20, 2001, Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Art Eggleton authorized more than 100 military members serving on military exchange programs in the US and other allied nations to participate in operations conducted by their host units in Afghanistan.

In early October, in response to the terrorist attacks in the US, the North Atlantic Council (NATO's senior political advisory body) invoked Article 5 of the Treaty of Washington, which states that any attack on a NATO nation launched from outside that nation shall be interpreted as an attack on all the NATO nations. Days later, on October 7, 2001, Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien announced that Canada would contribute air, land and sea forces to the international force being formed to conduct a campaign against terrorism.

General Ray Henault, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) at the time, prepared several military units for deployment. The next day, Minister Eggleton announced Canada’s 2000-person military commitment to Op Apollo, including an infantry battle group for ground operations in Afghanistan and Navy warships that immediately began deploying to the Arabian Sea.

Canada was the first coalition nation, after the US, to send warships into the Southwest Asia operational theatre, where they engaged in force-protection operations, fleet-support operations, al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership interdiction operations, and maritime interdiction operations. At its peak in January 2002, the Canadian Naval Task Group comprised six warships and about 1,500 Navy personnel. The Navy commitment to Op Apollo ended in December 2003.

In January 2002, Canada deployed combat troops to Kandahar as part of a US Army task force. The Canadian contribution was built on the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group, which included a reconnaissance squadron from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)), and combat service support elements from 1 Service Battalion. This was a combat mission that, in addition to providing security at Kandahar Airfield, saw Canadian troops engaged in the capture and destruction of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.

The 3 PPCLI Battle Group returned home in July 2002, but in March 2003 the Canadian Forces ground commitment to Op Apollo continued with the provision of an infantry platoon deployed elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf region to provide local security to deployed Canadian Forces units.

In November 2001 a Strategic Airlift Detachment deployed from 8 Wing Trenton with one CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) long-range transport aircraft and about 40 Canadian Forces members, including three flight crews and one air-cargo handling team. Its tasks included medical evacuation, sustainment and re-supply, rapid delivery of operationally required items, and movement of personnel into the theatre of operations. In May 2002, the detachment ceased operations and returned home, but the CC-150 Polaris continues to provide support today by carrying out regular sustainment flights from Canada to the Arabian Gulf region.

In December 2001, a Long Range Patrol (LRP) detachment of two CP-140 Aurora surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft, with about 200 Air Force personnel, including flight crews and support personnel, deployed to the Arabian Gulf region to provide reconnaissance and surveillance support to the coalition maritime forces. The LRP Detachment conducted its last mission in June 2003, having completed 500 missions and logged more than 4,300 flying hours.

Operation ALTAIR

Op Altair, which began in October 2003, consists of single Canadian warships deployed individually to operate with US carrier strike groups in the Arabian Gulf region, as part of US Op Enduring Freedom. It continues today.

Operation ACCIUS

Few Canadians have ever heard of Op Accius, the one-man operation in which a senior Canadian Forces officer was deployed to serve as a military advisor to the civilian-led United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Op Accius began in late 2002 and ended in June 2005. .

Operation ARCHER

The Canadian contribution to the US Op Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan is known as Op Archer. It consists of about 30 Canadian Forces personnel who fill various roles within the US-led Combined Security Transition Command — Afghanistan (CSTC-A) that is working to reform and build both the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP). The Canadian Forces provide a Brigadier-General as Deputy Commander and about 12 other Canadian officers to CSTC-A in Kabul.

The Canadian Forces also contributes 15 personnel to act as instructors involved in the training of the Afghan National Army at the Canadian Afghan National Training Centre Detachment (C ANTC Det) in Kabul.

Operation ARGUS

During his tenure as Commander ISAF in 2004, General Hillier realized that the emerging Government of Afghanistan required help and support to develop a capable and effective bureaucracy. The Afghan Compact and the Afghan National Development Strategy provided ‘what’ had to be done. Afghan bureaucrats required help with ‘how’ to plan and implement the appropriate strategies. General Hillier offered Afghan President Hamid Karzai a team of military officers to train and support Afghan government bureaucrats. President Karzai gladly accepted the offer.

Since September 2005, the Canadian Forces has, on a bilateral basis, provided a Strategic Advisory Team-Afghanistan (SAT-A). The SAT-A is a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and seasoned military and civilian strategic planners working in close cooperation with the senior ministerial leadership of the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in accordance with Canada’s ‘3D’ approach. It operates under the following guidance from the Chief of the Defence Staff:

“The SAT will work directly with the GOA [Government of Afghanistan] to identify the critical paths required to established efficient and durable Afghan institutions. The SAT will assist the GOA in the identification of the enabling capabilities, resource requirements, critical activities/milestones and a performance measurement framework. The scope of the team’s activities will be determined through consultation with the GOA and the Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan.”[12]

The SAT-A mission statement is:

To conduct credible and accountable capacity building operations in direct support of the senior leadership of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that ensures strategic coherence and results in good governance, peace and security in support of the Afghan Compact.[13]

The SAT-A consists of 14 Canadian Forces members, augmented by a CIDA officer to advise on development issues. The team includes a small command and support element, two teams of strategic planners, a defence analyst and a strategic communications advisor. The composition, size and capabilities of the team are adjusted as necessary.

Although the SAT-A it is a military unit on an independent operation and therefore is legally directly responsible to the CDS, it works in consultation with the Canadian Ambassador, his Head of Aid and with a senior representative of the Afghan government. The SAT-A is not, in any way, an intelligence organization, nor does it have any covert military role as some media have insinuated. The SAT-A is a non-parochial organization that serves at the pleasure of the Afghan government. As with all other Canadian Forces elements in Afghanistan, SAT-A aims to build Afghan capacity, providing direct planning support to government ministries and working groups in the development and governance realms. It does not work on issues in relating to the ‘Security’ pillar of the Afghan Compact. However, in addition to supporting Afghan government ministries,[14] the team has worked extensively with the Afghanistan's National Development Strategy Working Group, Public Administration Reform, Civil Service Gender Equity Policy, and with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

Canadian Forces strategic planners are embedded in their partner Afghan government ministries and agencies and work under Afghan leadership. The basic method of operation is that the team assists working level officials integrate the substantive ideas of the Afghan leadership and international experts into cohesive strategic frameworks.[15]

Examples of SAT-A work are their facilitation of government officials' movements to visit flood-damaged areas for damage assessments; support provided to meetings that were held with eight provincial councillors to discuss disparity and support with respect to national, provincial, and local initiatives; and support to the Minister for Rural Rehabilitation and Development, in preparing for a visit to Canada last fall. Finally, the SAT-A has also been helping with the preparation of provincial development plans, to coordinate efforts between provinces, ISAF, and the UN.

Some may question the use of military officers in this way. There are three reasons why Canadian Forces officers form the SAT-A. First, senior Canadian Forces officers are trained in strategic planning and programme organization. They are accustomed to setting up and running large, complex operations and this experience is valuable in helping to build an equivalent Afghan bureaucratic capability. Second, members of the SAT-A come from both the Regular and Reserve Force, and have a variety of specific qualifications, knowledge and experience in fields such as communications, logistics, law, medicine and engineering. Third, no one else seems to be stepping forward, from other government departments, to volunteer to do the job. Military officers will readily agree that the Canadian Forces should not expect to be doing the SAT-A job for a long time and that other government departments have public servants who are much more qualified to provide strategic bureaucratic advice and support. But the CDS recognized the requirement and acted quickly to provide a remedy. Canadian Forces personnel gladly reacted and continue to serve in the role. If any other government department displayed equivalent initiative or desire to provide qualified personnel, the Canadian Forces would welcome the effort. So far no one else seems to be interested.

Operation ATHENA

Op Athena is the current Canadian Forces contribution to ISAF. It includes about 2,500 personnel.

After leaving Afghanistan in July 2002, the Canadian Forces returned in August 2003 under Op Athena, with the deployment of a large contingent to Kabul, to serve with ISAF. For nearly two years, Canada provided the command element of a Multinational Brigade and an infantry battle group to help establish security in Kabul and the surrounding region. In 2003, then Major-General Andrew Leslie served as the Deputy Commander of ISAF and, from February to August 2004, then Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier commanded ISAF, which at that point comprised some 6,500 troops from 35 countries.

Over five successive six-month rotations Canadian Forces troops conducted foot patrols in the city and surveillance missions throughout the ISAF area of responsibility. They conducted armed raids on illegal weapons caches and suffered injury and death as a result of mines and suicide bombers. Throughout their tour of duty in Kabul, Canadian Forces contingents facilitated the democratic process for the Afghan National Assembly, Provincial Council elections and the Presidential election.

In late 2005, this phase of Op Athena ended with the redeployment of Canadian Forces elements to Kandahar, to temporarily be part of the US Op Enduring Freedom and prepare for a return to an expanding ISAF. Canadian Forces personnel took over the leadership of a Provincial Reconstruction Team from US forces and Brigadier-General David Fraser took command of the Multinational Brigade in Regional Command South in February 2006. With him came the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI) Battle Group to conduct operations against the Taliban in Kandahar Province, in an effort to establish a secure environment in which reconstruction and development activity could thrive. 1 PPCLI would spend most of their tour in combat against the Taliban, suffering a number of dead and wounded. A Canadian diplomat was killed by a suicide bomber in Kandahar City.

In the meantime, ISAF was expanding its area of responsibility and operations, replacing US Op Enduring Freedom forces as it went. On 31 July 2006, the Canadian troops in Kandahar returned to under operational command of ISAF as it took over of the southern region of Afghanistan from US forces.

ISAF authority is exercised through five subordinate Regional Commands (RCs):

a.   Regional Command Capital in Kabul;

b.   Regional Command North in Mazar-e Sharif;

c.   Regional Command West in Herat;

d.   Regional Command South in Kandahar; and

e.   Regional Command East in Bagram.

Each of these Regional Commands, with the exception of Regional Command Capital, have their own PRTs, the role of which is to assist local authorities in the reconstruction and maintenance of security in the area.

a.   Five PRTs in Regional Command North;

b.   Four PRTs in Regional Command West;

c.   Four PRTs in Regional Command South (of which one, in Kandahar, is led by Canada); and

d.   12 PRTs in Regional Command East.

Today, the Canadian Forces contingent in Afghanistan is called Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) and is commanded by Brigadier-General Tim Grant. Soldier for soldier, JTF-Afg provides more capability than any other national contingent in Afghanistan, organized as shown below:

a.   1200 person infantry battle group; including

1.      A combat engineer squadron,

2.      An artillery battery,

3.      An armoured reconnaissance troop,

4.      A Leopard tank squadron,

5.      A Tactical Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) Unit, and

6.      Operational Mentor Liaison Teams (OMLTs) partnering with Afghan National Army (ANA) Infantry kandak (battalion) and ANA Corps HQ;

b.   70 Health Service Support (HSS) personnel at the Multinational Medical Unit (MMU) at Kandahar Airfield;

c.   30 military members with the Multi-National Brigade (MNB) Headquarters;

d.   300 military members with the National Command Element (NCE) at Kandahar Airfield;

e.   300 military members with the National Support Element (NSE) in Kandahar;

f.    In Kabul, about 50 military personnel at ISAF Headquarters, 15 personnel with a smaller NSE Detachment and 11 at the Canadian Embassy;

g.   250 military members with the Theatre Support Element (TSE) in Southwest Asia; and

h.   The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

Canadian Air Force Contribution

The Canadian Air Force has been continuously supporting Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan and this region, since 2002. Together with tactical inter-theatre airlift, between the staging area at Camp Mirage and Kandahar, the Air Force provides a lifeline to JTF-Afg. This air bridge requires absolute dedication to ensure it operates effectively, because the very success of the mission in Afghanistan depends on it.

In 2006, over 550 flights of strategic airlift, representing the movement of thousands of people and tonnes of materiel, have supported Canadian troops. The fleet of five CC-150 Polaris Airbus aircraft has been used largely for personnel transport and for smaller pallet-sized cargo. The majority, almost 75% of the strategic airlift, however, has been accomplished through contracted airlift, including C-17 chalks provided by the United States Air Force.

The materiel and personnel are first flown into Camp Mirage, the primary Canadian base of operations in the theatre. Camp Mirage is also used to administer personnel departing and returning from Afghanistan during periods of home leave travel assistance or rest and recreation. Camp Mirage is commanded by a Canadian Air Force lieutenant-colonel and is operated almost exclusively by air force personnel. Thousands of air force personnel have quietly served in Camp Mirage since it was first established in 2002.

Given the current air threat and risk assessments in theatre, the CC-130 Hercules remains the sole platform for moving personnel into Afghanistan from Camp Mirage. The Hercules, about one-third to one-quarter the size of the strategic lift aircraft, is the workhorse of our air mobility fleet. During 2006, they have made over 500 flights into Afghanistan.

The Air Force also operates within Afghanistan. Air and ground crew are conducting flying operations with the CC-130 Hercules throughout Afghanistan in direct support of Canadian Forces operations in that country. Whether transporting personnel from Kandahar to Kabul or parachuting up to 14,500 kilos of supplies per flight to deployed soldiers throughout the country, they make a tremendous difference. They have become a key enabler to commanders by providing supplies to soldiers in remote areas of Afghanistan that are not supported by a road network, or in areas in which the Taliban are disrupting the road network.

In addition to supporting Canadian soldiers, the Canadian Air Force has been instrumental in delivering personnel and supplies for other nations, including the Netherlands, the US and UK. Canadian flight crews are acknowledged by other nations for their accuracy and effectiveness, particularly when it comes to air-dropping supplies into dangerous and hostile environments.

The Canadian Air Force also has responsibility for generation and provision of uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) capability for JTF-Afg. Air Force and Army personnel work together in an integrated tactical UAV unit, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to commanders in the field.

Men and women of the Air Force are also actively engaged in key positions within ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Major General Angus Watt[16] recently served as the ISAF Deputy Commander (Air) and occasionally ran ISAF operations during the Commander's absence from theatre. Other Canadian Air Force personnel serve in the SAT-A in Kabul. In addition, airfield engineers and other skilled Air Force personnel are integrated into a variety of units.

Canadian Navy Contribution

The Canadian Navy has also provided officers, both Regulars and Reservists, to work in the SAT-A. Naval personnel were seconded to the US-led Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan to assist in the transition between American forces and NATO forces that occurred in 2006. A variety of Naval personnel — military policemen, doctors, cargo movement specialists, drivers, supply techs, etc. — serve with JTF-Afg. Specially skilled naval clearance divers have been put ashore to contribute to the critical and highly dangerous function of defeating improvised explosive devices in theatre.

Naval technical and operational experts have been assisting the Chief of the Land Staff to determine the feasibility of deploying the Phalanx close-in weapons system, or CIWS — a devastatingly accurate Gatling gun normally on Canadian destroyers and frigates as an essential last defence against anti-ship missiles. The weapons could be of use in defending selected installations from inbound mortar or rocket fire.

It should also be remembered that in October 2001, it was a Canadian naval task group and maritime aircraft that defended the US Navy and US Marine Corps force that seized Kandahar from the Taliban.


National Command

At the present time, Brigadier-General Grant, as Commander JTF-Afg, exercises national command over all Canadian Forces elements in Afghanistan. A national chain of command is maintained to deal with matters of national policy, administration, and discipline. The CDS always retains full command of any Canadian Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed overseas through the Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command (Comd CEFCOM), who in turn issues operational direction to the appointed Commander of the JTF.

Operational Command

In the case of NATO operations in Afghanistan, Canada has agreed to provide forces under Operational Command (OPCOM) of NATO commanders. JTF-Afg is responsible for all military operations in Kandahar Province and Brigadier-General Grant takes his operational orders from British Major General Jacko Page, the Commander of Regional Command South. A graphical representation of national and operational chains of command follows in Figure 1.

A graphical representation of national and operational chains of command

Figure 1 — National and Operational Chains of Command


As can be seen from the array of elements within JTF-Afg, the Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan is much more balanced and versatile than is generally thought. One aspect of this balance is its ability to conduct kinetic and non-kinetic operations. As the term implies, kinetic operations feature the traditional use of military force to attack and destroy an enemy. Non-kinetic operations involve non-combat military activity.

While kinetic operations may either impress or remove the enemy’s will to fight, non-kinetic operations are usually the ones that ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the people. JTF-Afg is able to do both — well.

The 1200-person infantry battle group is a formidable unit capable of strong kinetic operations. It has never been beaten. Its success in Op Medusa, alongside other NATO troops and elements of the Afghan National Army in the fall of 2006, has been hailed as perhaps the most significant NATO victory yet, in Afghanistan. The 1 RCR Battle Group, working with allied ISAF forces, defeated a Taliban force trying to reach Kandahar city.

However, the battle group is also able to conduct effective non-kinetic operations, sometimes at considerable cost to the soldiers. Battle group elements provided security posts to protect the construction of a new road — Route Summit — in the Panjwayi district, last winter. With Canadian, German and US funding, a Japanese construction company was contracted to build the road with Afghan labour. Canadian military engineers provided some advice for part of the work. Canadian soldiers have been killed and others injured in Taliban attacks on the road, but construction continued until completion.

Another example was Op Falcon Summit (Baaz Tzuka). Days prior to the operation, Canadian soldiers held several meetings with tribal elders to discuss reconstruction efforts that would begin, and to persuade locals to help support ISAF and to help ISAF keep the Taliban out of the area after the Taliban have been removed. Then, on December 15, 2006, NATO aircraft attacked a Taliban command post in the area. Later that same day, other NATO aircraft began dropping three sets of leaflets over the region. The first set warned the population of the impending conflict. The second drop included a plea for locals to turn their backs on the Taliban and support NATO. The final set of leaflets had an image of a Taliban fighter with a large X superimposed on it, to warn Taliban fighters to leave the area or suffer the consequences. By the time the operation ended in January 2007, very little military force had been used and Taliban, who were not killed or captured, had left the area.

The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) is JTF-Afg’s principal non-kinetic operational unit, comprised of military and civilian personnel with a variety of skills, all designed to support local reconstruction and Afghan capacity building in Kandahar province. To balance its non-kinetic capability, the PRT can conduct low-level kinetic operations if required, usually to protect other elements of the PRT.

Also as noted above, JTF-Afg has an ensemble of other non-kinetic elements that keep busy. Medical personnel conduct outreach clinics in rural villages, Canadian Forces personnel mentor Afghan National Army personnel in Kandahar and at the Kabul Military Training Centre. The SAT-A supports government planners in Kabul too.


In the southern provinces of Afghanistan ISAF is pursuing what has been called the “Ink Spot” strategy. Officially it is referred to as the Afghan Development Zone (ADZ) concept, to establish regions that are sufficiently safe to allow a focus on reconstruction. The intent is to have these ADZs grow and spread like flowing ink, until Afghan government influence and authority covers the country.

Essentially, an ADZ is created this way. Security forces first clear an area of insurgents and then maintain a presence to ensure security of development projects by the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Auxiliary Police and ISAF, augmented by support from a PRT. The PRT and other development agencies then roll out a concentrated programme of spending on projects that have a key economic and social multiplier value, such as bridges, roads, wells, or clinics. ISAF offers a quick reaction capability to protect these ADZs against renewed insurgent activity.

JTF-Afg is tasked to make Kandahar City into an ADZ. Canadian tactics in this regard have seen the deployment of robust elements of infantry and tanks into forward operating bases beyond Kandahar City, astride likely approaches that might be used by Taliban forces. Security within the city is the responsibility of the Afghan National Police, supported by the Afghan National Army. The KPRT is active within Kandahar City too. The approach is working.


Canada assumed responsibility for the KPRT in August 2005. It is one of 25 PRTs throughout Afghanistan that help to:

a.   Extend the Afghan government’s authority and ability to govern;

b.   To facilitate the rebuilding of local infrastructure; and

c.   To provide services to its citizens.

The KPRT aims to facilitate an interdepartmental approach that enables Afghans to help Afghans. It cooperates with non-governmental organizations, international organizations and identifies reconstruction needs where the international community may be unable to operate.

The KPRT includes about 350 personnel, mainly Canadian Forces members, but it also has diplomatic advisors from DFAIT, development officers from CIDA, civilian police led by the RCMP, and officers from Corrections Services Canada. About 145 of the total strength are deployable on operations. The remainder are responsible for planning and administering KPRT work from Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. It is organized as follows:

a.   The PRT Commander’s Tactical Headquarters Group, to provide protection and mobility to the PRT Commander and his staff;

b.   An infantry rifle company to protect and escort PRT personnel, provide a quick reaction force for Kandahar City, and conduct defence and security tasks;

c.   Military project managers (military engineers) that enhance the PRT’s ability to manage quick impact reconstruction and development projects;

d.   A Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Platoon;

e.   A Military Police Platoon;

f.    Health and medical support;

g.   A service and support element; and

h.   Other specialized elements, including personnel from the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Range of Expertise

It is important to know that the KPRT works to build Afghan capacity rather than do the work themselves. Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Hetherington told the Committee during its visit to Kandahar in January 2007, that they aim to put an “Afghan face” on everything they do. At the local level, PRT experts meet with village ‘Shuras’ — a gathering of village elders — to determine what Afghans want and need. The PRT then facilitates the work to be done by Afghans.

The KPRT is led by Canadian military personnel, but it is not only an entirely Canadian organization. The US Department of State has deployed personnel of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to be part of the Kandahar PRT and there is also representation from the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.

One example of the work done by those serving in the KPRT is found in the case of Warrant Officer Dean Henley, nicknamed by locals as the ‘Prince of Panjwayi.’ He could be the most popular man in southern Afghanistan because of a silver suitcase he carries. The suitcase is packed with money for locals, who are paid $5 a day to clean schoolyards, or dig out ditches and canals. When the Committee met Warrant Officer Henley in Afghanistan in January 2007, he had employed over 500 by then. He told us that the idea was to give Afghans just enough money that they won't become dependant on the Canadians for work.

Warrant Officer Henley is a Canadian Army reservist, who normally works as a school teacher in Canada. The KPRT is full of Henleys.


KPRT work requires a secure environment. The Taliban oppose reconstruction work at the local level and have threatened and murdered Afghans collaborating with government and ISAF initiatives, notably Safia Ama Jan, the head of a provincial women's affairs department, who was gunned down near her home in Kandahar in September 2006.

The KPRT also includes an infantry rifle company that provides local security for KPRT personnel as they go about their reconstruction business. The Canadian Brigade Group conducts higher level operations to eliminate and neutralize Taliban forces in the area.

Funding Flow

During its visit to Kandahar, the Committee heard that one of the problems facing the PRT was that, reconstruction money was not coming through fast enough from CIDA. Informal information told us that CIDA funding in Afghanistan was subject to the same contracting and accounting regime imposed in Canada and that such red tape succeeded only in delaying the flow of necessary funding through the PRT, for projects waiting to be done.

We recall that a senior CF officer made this same point to another Parliamentary committee earlier in 2006. In October 2006, the Commander JTF-Afg had a reconstruction fund of $1.9 million dollars, provided by DND, to be spent on local reconstruction projects. It has since been increased to nearly $4 million. There was also another ‘pot’ of money to be provided by CIDA for other, longer-term projects and it was this second source of money that was slow in coming. The public record shows the following exchange:

BGen. Howard: Minister Josée Verner has been here. She spoke about the $100 million a year that goes into Afghanistan and 10 per cent of it is aimed at the Kandahar province. That is as per her transcripts when she was here last time. Based on that 10 per cent then, a number of projects are ready to go created by the PRT with the three development officers. They are simply waiting for this funding to arrive. Once they have the funding they can prosecute these projects.

The Chairman: The troops have been there for how long, and we are waiting for funding from CIDA still?

BGen. Howard: Yes, sir. [17]

The difficulty in moving money through the government bureaucracy is another element that contributes to perceptions of imbalance. If the 3D strategy is to be effective, all three Ds must be able to apply their individual expertise in a complementary and aggressive way to address the mission at hand. It seems though, that CIDA may have been a drag on diplomacy and defence in late 2006. The Committee hopes that lessons have been learned and that with the new reconstruction and development money announced in February 2007, by Prime Minister Harper, CIDA has changed its funding process to allow project money to flow at the speed needed to meet the operational requirements of the mission.

A number of related recommendations flow from this issue.


The government should review regulations governing the disbursement of reconstruction and development funding through the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, to ensure project funding can flow at the rate necessary to meet the requirements of the mission and establish a process of financial and project accountability.


The timely disbursement of reconstruction and development funding to the field is not only important in Afghanistan, but in all of Canada’s international operations. Therefore, the government should review regulations governing the dispersal of reconstruction and development funding in all international operations, to ensure project funding can flow at the rate necessary to meet mission requirements and establish a process of financial and project accountability.


While the disbursement of reconstruction and development funds are routinely accounted for in Departmental Performance Reports and responsible Ministers may be requested to appear before Parliamentary committees to report on such expenditures, the Committee feels that audits of international development funds should ensure that project funding is transparent, effective and efficient and establish a process of financial and project accountability.

[1]              The US has traditionally not allowed its military forces to be directed by foreign commanders in operations. It was an indication of the confidence they have in the quality of Canadian military leadership that US forces were placed under Canadian operational command in Afghanistan.

[2]              McArthur, Donald. “Canadian troops press ahead in Op Medusa.” Canwest News Service, Windsor Star. September 6, 2006. At

[3]              NATO Press Release. “Operation Baaz Tsuka will send a strong message to Taliban from Afghan people.” December 15, 2006.

[4]              General David Richards, Commander ISAF, in a briefing to the Standing Committee on National Defence, in Kandahar, January 26, 2007. He listed the Taliban aims for 2006 as being (1) to take Kandahar; (2) to remove the British troops from Helmund Province; and (3) to continue offensive operations throughout the winter (2006-07). None of these aims were attained.

[5]              United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-establishment of Permanent Government Institutions. At

[6]              Ibid., Annex I.

[7]              McCallum, The Honourable John. Hansard. February 12, 2003.

[8]              Ibid., Hansard. April 28, 2003.

[9]              The Honourable Bill Graham. Teleconference Transcript. October 12, 2005. DND Website at

[10]           A copy of the Afghan Compact can be seen at,0.doc.

[11]           The operations described here are Canadian operations, each of which is a discreet activity focussed on a specific mission. They should not be confused with NATO combat operations such as Op Medusa or the US Op Enduring Freedom.

[12]           From a presentation by Lieutenant Colonel Fred Aubin to a Conference of Defence Associations Institute roundtable on March 30, 2007. Lieutenant Colonel Aubin had just returned to Canada after serving nearly one year as the Deputy Commander of the Strategic Advisory Team-Afghanistan.

[13]           Ibid.

[14]           The SAT-A works with the following government ministries: The Chief of Staff of the Office of the President; The Senior Economic Advisor to the President; The Executive Director of the Afghan National Development Strategy; The Minister of Justice; The Minister of National Communications; The Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (National Solidarity Program); The Minister of Education; The Minister of Transportation and Civil Aviation; The Minister of the Interior; The Minister of Finance; and The Chairman of Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission. SAT-A does not work on issues relating to the “security pillar”.

[15]           DND website. Op ARGUS. At

[16]           Soon to be Lieutenant General Angus Watt, assuming the position of Chief of the Air Staff (Commander of the Air Force) in National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa.

[17]           Howard, Brigadier-General A.J. Evidence. Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, October 16, 2006.