OTTAWA—Canadian Forces are incurring a disproportionately heavy burden of casualties among coalition forces in Afghanistan, says Canada's Fallen, a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report, written by defence analysts Steven Staples and Bill Robinson, raises serious questions about why Canada is taking such heavy losses, and whether the government expected such a high number of soldiers to be killed.
The first of its kind in Canada, the report paints a grim picture of Afghanistan where Canada has suffered 32 military deaths, 27 from hostile action (as of September 8, 2006). It finds that, after the United States, Canada has suffered more casualties from hostile action than any other U.S. ally—27 of 71 casualties, or two in five of non-U.S. deaths.
The move south from Kabul to Kandahar, approved by the Liberal government in 2005 and extended by the Conservative government, has been a costly one. Twenty of Canada's deaths from hostile attacks, roughly three quarters, have occurred since the counterinsurgency mission began in February 2006. The mission is so hazardous that a Canadian solider in Kandahar is six times as likely to be killed by hostile attack than a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq.
The report points out that, if the current rate of casualties sustained in Kandahar to date were to continue until the end of the mission in January 2009, there could be 108 additional deaths from all causes, raising the number of casualties since the 2001 invasion to 140 dead—more than four times what it is today.
"As we examined the troubling data, the question arose as to whether the Liberals misjudged the danger, and if the Conservatives ignored it," said Steven Staples, noting that the Department of National Defence has provided the government with accurate pre-mission casualty estimates in previous missions.
"The mission in Kandahar is claiming many lives, and could claim many more," said CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell. "This important report casts light on a frequently mentioned, but rarely examined, aspect of this mission.”
Canada"s Fallen: Understanding Canadian Casualties in Afghanistan is available on the CCPA web site at http://www.policyalternatives.ca
For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.