Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Morale among Canadian Troop Trainers in Afghanistan Was Shaky, Army Survey

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Morale among Canadian Troop Trainers in Afghanistan Was Shaky, Army Survey

Article excerpt

Morale low among Cdn trainers in Afghanistan


OTTAWA - Coming down from the institutional high of fighting a war is something the Canadian Army has grappled with almost from the outset of its mission to train Afghan forces, newly released documents show.

A survey conducted by the army found morale was shaky among the first set of Canadian troops who deployed to train the Afghan National Army following the end of Canada's five-year combat mission in Kandahar.

Only one-third of the soldiers who took part in the end-of-tour study said they would be willing to deploy on similar, future operations -- a finding that senior commanders found troubling.

"The morale of the participants was moderate to low at the individual (59 per cent) and unit level (72 per cent)," according to the survey. Half of the participants recognized the value of training the Afghans, but only "one-third (32 per cent) were optimistic about the mission."

Equally disturbing for the military leadership was that only 58 per cent of those asked felt that their job, which mostly involved training Afghan army trainers, was "significant or important" during the six-to-eight month deployment.

"The (chain of command) should be concerned with such a low level of appreciation and job satisfaction which may lead to a low propensity for redeploying on similar missions in the future," said a July 11, 2012 briefing prepared for the commander of the army at the time, lieutenant-general Peter Devlin, who has now retired. "There does appear to be a lack of belief in the mission."

The survey, involving 69 per cent of 950 person task force, was conducted in March 2012 and recently released to The Canadian Press under access to information legislation, along with briefing material.

The release coincides with the final withdrawal of the remaining 950 Canadian troops from Afghanistan, an exercise that will be ongoing until next spring when the training mission ends on March 31, 2014. …

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