Cdns bearing brunt of Afghan coalition casualties
Updated Mon. Sep. 18 2006 10:21 AM ET
Sarah Challands, CTV.ca News
A Canadian soldier serving in Kandahar is six times more likely to be killed by a hostile attack than a U.S. soldier serving in Iraq, a report released Monday suggests.
The study, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says Canadian soldiers are incurring a "disproportionately heavy burden of casualties" among coalition troops in Afghanistan.
Canadians have accounted for 43 per cent of all coalition military deaths in Afghanistan since February, the report, entitled 'Canada's Fallen,' says.
It finds that, after the United States, Canada has suffered more casualties from hostile action in Afghanistan than any other U.S. ally -- 27 of 71 casualties, or two in five of non-U.S. deaths.
The study says when that figure is adjusted to take into account the relative size of each country's troop commitments, a Canadian soldier in Kandahar is nearly three times more likely to be killed in hostile action than a British soldier, and more than four times more likely than an American soldier in Afghanistan.
Defence researchers Bill Robinson and Steven Staples, who wrote the report, say a Canadian soldier in Kandahar is six times more likely to die than a U.S. soldier fighting in Iraq.
Staples said the report raised serious questions about why Canada is taking such heavy losses, and whether the government expected such a high number of soldiers to be killed.
"As we examined the troubling data, the question arose as to whether the Liberals misjudged the danger, and if the Conservatives ignored it," Staples, said, adding that the Department of National Defence had provided the government with accurate pre-mission casualty estimates in previous missions.
The report by the left-leaning CCPA uses data available up to Sept. 8, 2006 and does not include the four Canadian soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in Kandahar on Sept. 18.
The report also does not include the number of Canadians (five) who have died in accidents in Afghanistan.
Reluctant European troops
Meanwhile, another study says Canada, Britain and the U.S. have shouldered the brunt of the heavy fighting because most European forces are lightly armed, trained for garrison duty and reluctant to go into harm's way.
The U.S. Congressional report, entitled NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance, says most European countries, with the exception of France, send their troops to the war-torn country without proper equipment and with little funds for reconstruction efforts.
"These restrictions, for example, may prohibit forces from engaging in combat operations, or from patrolling at night due to a lack of night-vision equipment," says the report, which was published by the Congressional Research Service on Aug. 22 and made available in Canada last week.
"These governments tend to be reluctant to send their forces out into the field to confront the Taliban and control warlords and their militias. The result, in this view, has been that British and Canadian and U.S. forces bear a disproportionate share of the most dangerous tasks."