There's no guarantee a NATO-trained army in Afghanistan will succeed in helping to stabilize the nation once the military alliance pulls out, says one of the commanders of the Canadian training mission.

In an interview Sunday, Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the Canadian contingent training mission, told CBC News the very least NATO can do is try to leave behind a professional, self-reliant Afghan security force.

Dawe said a big part of this will be to increase the literacy levels of soldiers being trained, with more than 100,000 members of the Afghan national security force expected to receive literacy training by the fall.


Col. Peter Dawe, left, deputy commander of the Canadian training mission in Afghanistan, says increasing the literacy levels of Afghan soldiers will be a key part of the mission. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

"I have concerns," Dawe said. "Nobody in the mission is naive. We're optimistic but not naive. …We're not in the business of making guarantees. We certainly won't guarantee success."

The commander called the Afghan National Army a "very capable" institution that needs to be made into a "professional and self-reliant, trustworthy" security force for the future.

"Afghans don't need to be taught how to fight," he said. "They just need to be given the critical enablers."

Canada formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan on Thursday after years of being on the front lines of the fight against Taliban insurgents in the south. About 950 soldiers and support staff will carry out a training mission in the Afghan capital Kabul until 2014.

Almost all Canadian troops are out of Kandahar, save for a handful of soldiers who will serve for a short while longer attached to American platoons.

The withdrawal of 2,850 Canadian combat troops comes at a time the Taliban continue to show their resilience, peace talks are in their infancy and governance and development are lagging security gains on the battlefield.