Intelligence: Canada Goes Dark


March 28, 2010:  Canada has stopped reporting individual incidents where their soldiers are wounded in Afghanistan. This is to deprive the Taliban information on the impact of their combat actions, particularly roadside bombs and mines. The Canadians found that the Taliban had a very fragile communications system, and senior commanders have a hard time determining which of their actions (like placing roadside bombs and mines) are inflicting damage. The Taliban were getting most of their information from the media, particularly the Internet. Reports from the Taliban men who actually carried out the attack could not always be trusted, especially when bonuses were provided for killing or wounding foreign troops. The Taliban liked to have someone take videos or pictures of each attack, but this was not always possible. But the Canadian government casualty reports were always there, until now.

In the last eight years, Canadian troops in Afghanistan have suffered 141 soldiers killed and 529 wounded in action. Another were evacuated for non-combat injuries (mostly disease and accidents). Canada will still report combat injuries annually, which won't do the Taliban much good.

Canadian troops have been suffering the highest casualty rate of all the NATO contingents there (between one and two percent a year.) This rate is 2-3 times that suffered by U.S. and British troops. This is partly due to the Americans having a higher proportion of support troops there. The U.S. provides support for many of the other NATO contingents, particularly the British and Canadian troops operating in the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan.

The last major war Canada fought in was Korea (1951-3). There, the overall Canadian KIA rate was two percent. In World War II, large numbers of Canadian troops did not enter combat until 1944 (the invasion of France), and their KIA rate for that year was 3.4 percent. Before 1944, the rate was much lower (.4 to 1.1 percent) because involvement was largely restricted to naval, air force and commando operations.

In Afghanistan, the Canadians are aggressively dealing with a sector that is full of Taliban fighters and drug gangs. As any military historian will point out, casualty rates depend on many factors, and how "hot" your area of operations is heads the list. Since World War I, Canadians have earned a reputation for being able to handle the worst situations, better than most other troops. Thus Canadian troops were in the thick of it during World War I, at Normandy and in Korea. And, it appears, in Afghanistan as well.



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