Cablegate: Canada in Afghanistan: Some Progress, with Steps Backward

DE RUEHOT #0879/01 3452221
O R 112221Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: OTTAWA 00429; OTTAWA 00725; OTTAWA 944; OTTAWA 940

1. (SBU) Summary. In its sixth quarterly report to Parliament on
Canada's engagement in Afghanistan, the government cited slight
progress - mostly on school construction, micro-finance, and polio
eradication -- in its efforts in Kandahar Province. Training and
mentoring of Afghan Security Forces - both army and police -
continues, with mixed results. Signature development projects move
forward, and border security dialogue between Afghanistan and
Pakistan is expanding, with Canadian facilitation. The media and
Parliament, however, remain more obsessed with allegations that the
government ignored credible reports of abuse of Afghan detainees
transferred by the Canadian Forces in 2006 to Afghan authorities
(ref c), and largely ignored the mostly discouraging news in this
latest report. End summary.

2. (U) Minister of International Trade and Chair of the Cabinet
Committee on Afghanistan Stockwell Day on December 10 released
the sixth quarterly report to Parliament - mandated under a March
2008 bipartisan motion that also extended the mandate of the
Canadian Forces in Afghanistan until the end of 2011 -- on Canada's
engagement in Afghanistan. Covering the period from July 1 to
September 30, the report painted an often discouraging picture for
the work of Canadian military and civilian units operating in and
around Kandahar. The report recognized that the widespread fraud
that characterized the Presidential election had raised questions
of credibility regarding the Karzai government, but praised the
willingness of the Afghan people to vote in the face of
intimidation as well as the efforts of Afghan security forces to
provide security. The report noted that Canada had achieved
progress toward "many" of its priority objectives in the province.

3. (U) The report, however, also highlighted that the quarter had
witnessed the "heaviest loss of life among the greatly expanded
coalition forces for any three-month period since 2001," including
eleven members of the Canadian Forces. The report admitted that
"the insurgents have seized the initiative, both in armed conflict
and by creating a crisis of confidence among the populace through
the equally important 'silent war' of fear, intimidation and
persuasion." It noted that August was also the "deadliest month
so far this year for Afghan civilian casualties." The report
welcomed that the August recommendations from General Stanley
McChrystal, Commander of the International Security Assistance
Force (COMISAF), had in many ways reflected the approach already
underway by Canadian Forces, notably, the "Village Approach"
exemplified by Operation Kantolo, which aims to protect the
population and create a secure environment in which governance and
development can take root.

Key Findings of the Report

Priority One: Training and Mentoring ANSF

4. (U) The Canadian objective for 2011 is for the Afghan National
Army (ANA) to demonstrate an "increased capacity" to conduct
operations and sustain a more secure environment in key districts
of Kandahar Province, and for four kandaks (battalions) to be fully
capable of planning, executing, and sustaining near-autonomous
operations.. As of this quarter, however, only one of six kandaks
is "fully capable" -- unchanged from previous quarter, although
there is also a new kandak that has not undergone assessment. Only
one of the six kandaks or the ANA headquarters has an effective
strength of 70% or higher -- down from three kandaks at that level
last quarter. The report contended that the ANA nonetheless had
succeeded in shouldering greater responsibility for security in
Kandahar City and by independently executing 80% of security
operations on its own, as well as by leading more than 70%. This
exceeded the 65% goal for 2011, and is up from 45% for the June
2008 baseline period. (This was a benchmark that the government
had added only in the previous report.) However, in contrast to
the previous quarter when the ANA had an approval rating of 85% or
more in five out of six key districts, this was true in only one
key district during this quarter. Similarly, in this quarter,

OTTAWA 00000879 002 OF 004

there were no key districts in which the majority of Kandaharis
perceived security as improving, whereas there had been one in the
previous quarter.

5. (U) The Afghan National Police (ANP) performed well during the
elections, according to the report, providing security at polling
stations and assisting the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in
moving and securing elections materials. Canadian military and
civilian police in Kandahar City provided basic training for 679
ANP officers in preparation for the election, up from only 200 in
the previous quarter (although the report failed to report on the
total percentage of ANP in Kandahar with such training, unlike in
the previous report). There was progress toward the 2011 goal of
having 80 % of the ANP units capable of planning and executing
near-autonomous operations. Two (of 17) ANP units representing 12%
of the officers were assessed as capable of conducting basic law
and order operations with occasional assistance from international
advisors or police mentor team (Capability Milestone 2), up from
one in the last quarter.

Priority Two: Strengthening Afghan Capacity to Deliver Core

6. (U) The report noted that the ability of the Afghan Government
to provide dependable basic services such as education, healthcare,
sanitation, roads, and water is a key test of its ability to gain
public confidence. Two of Canada's "signature projects" are
designed to reinforce the Afghan Government's institutional
capacity to deliver these services. Toward the 2011 goal of
building, expanding, or repairing 50 schools in key districts,
construction was completed during the quarter on seven schools, up
from zero during the last reporting period. Twenty-one schools are
currently under construction; no new school projects began this
quarter. This quarter, 13,500 individuals continued in various
literacy training programs, identical with the previous quarter.

7. (U) Another 2011 goal for Afghan institutions is to have
completed infrastructure projects undertaken by locally elected
bodies in 75% of communities in key districts. The report cited
completed projects in 68% of key districts, up from 66% last
quarter. Canadian engineers made progress on technical aspects of
another "signature project," the C$50 million rehabilitation of the
Dahla Dam. When completed, this dam and irrigation system will
ensure reliable water delivery to four out of five Kandaharis and
support licit agriculture. A manufacturer for the gates and weirs
of the associated irrigation system was identified. The project
created 157 new seasonal jobs for a cumulative total of 355 (versus
199 last quarter), against a 2011 target of 10,000. In this
quarter, Kandahar already achieved Canada's 2011 target of loans
for 500 clients through the Microfinance Investment Support
Facility (against a March 2008 baseline of 30 microfinance loans).

8. (U) The report recognized that insurgent activity in Kandahar
nonetheless continued to hamper the efforts of both the
international community and Afghan Government to provide basic
services, however. Development partners can travel in key
districts only in armored vehicles with military escort. In other
areas, movement is not possible. While 60% of Kandaharis were
satisfied with the Afghan government's efforts to improve the
quality of life, this was a decline from 75% in the last quarter.
However, the percent of Kandaharis satisfied with the provision of
education grew from 44% to 47%, and those satisfied with employment
increased from 25% to 40% in this quarter. However, about 30 pct
had a favorable opinion of the Taliban, a "modest but steady upward

Priority Three: Providing Humanitarian Assistance to Vulnerable

9. (U) Canada's 2011 the goal is that humanitarian assistance
will be accessible to Afghan refugees and internally displaced
persons in Kandahar and nationwide. According to this report,

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Canada's third "signature project" -- a campaign designed to
eradicate polio throughout Afghanistan in 2009, in partnership with
the World Health Organization and UNICEF -- inoculated another
380,000 children in Kandahar and another 880,000 nationwide. The
report admitted, however, that it will not be possible to eradicate
the disease in Afghanistan as projected by the end of 2009, and
that there were nine new cases in the quarter, with a nationwide
total of 22 new cases. Canadian funding helped the World Food
Programme to double its food aid from last quarter, reaching an
additional 1.5 million beneficiaries. Removal of landmines and
explosives cleared land in 11 villages (an additional 0.25 square
kilometers of land) during this period, bring the number of
mine-related civilian casualties to fewer than 50 per month, a 10
year low. Estimates are that at least 10,000 explosive hazards
remain, however, scattered across more than 1000 square miles of
Kandahar Province.

Priority Four: Enhancing Border Security and Facilitating Bilateral
Dialogue Between Afghanistan and Pakistan

10. (U) Canada's goal for 2011 is that Afghan and Pakistani
institutions will exercise "stronger capacity" to control the
border. The quarterly report cited two Joint Working Group
meetings under the Canadian-facilitated Dubai Process, which
brought together Afghan and Pakistani officials to identify
projects that would contribute to efforts in counter narcotics and
controlling the movement of people. (Two additional meetings on
customs and law enforcement took place after the end of this
reporting period.) Canadian-facilitated discussions also took
place along the Kandahar-Baluchistan border between Afghan and
Pakistani military officers. These Dubai Process meetings have
created a regular mechanism for advancing border cooperation.

Priority Five: Advancing Afghan Democratic Institutions

11. (U) Canada's hope for 2011 is that national, local and
provincial institutions in Kandahar will exhibit an "increasing
capacity" for democratic governance. Although the report
recognized the major concerns about irregularities and fraud
related to the Presidential election, it praised the work of the
Independent Electoral Commission and the Elections Complaints
Commission as examples of emerging capacity. It admitted, however,
that voter turnout was less than 40% in the elections. Training
for officials from Kandahar and 21 other provinces began during
last reporting period and continued in this quarter in preparation
for the establishment of long-term provincial strategic plans to
build capacity in conjunction with the Afghan National Development

Priority Six: Facilitating Afghan-led Efforts toward Reconciliation

12. (U) The report noted "no further results" on national
reconciliation, which will depend on the "will of the Afghan
people." Canada agreed to provide C$1.6 million to rebuild the
meeting hall of the Kandahar Provincial Council, providing space
for community gatherings.

Reaction in Canada

13. (SBU) While the media covered the December 10 release by
Minister Day, virtually all of the questioning related instead to
the on-going controversy over the treatment of prisoners handed
over to Afghan security forces by Canadian soldiers and what the
government knew when (ref c). Minister Day, and -- in a separate
press conference -- Justice Minister Rob Nicholson insisted that
the government would not comply with a December 9 House of Commons
motion (which the ruling Conservatives lost 145-143) demanding full
release of all relevant documents to the Commons. Minister Day
cited operational security, while Minister Nicholas cited legal
restrictions; both suggested individuals (including MPs) who wanted

OTTAWA 00000879 004 OF 004

access to such restricted documents would have to seek them in
court. The three opposition parties are united in seeking to
embarrass the government over this issue and have vowed to call
into session the Special Committee on Afghanistan even during the
holiday recess (which began December 10), but have indicated no
interest in debating the actual Canadian mission in Afghanistan and
the successes - or failures - of Canada's role as documented in the
quarterly reports. As noted in one editorial, the public
similarly has a "curiosity" deficit" when it comes to Afghanistan

© Scoop Media

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