KABUL - A bout of brutal reflection will follow in the wake of the withdrawal of Canadian and eventually all NATO troops from Afghanistan.
There are some, especially among western military leaders, who say there should be no rush to judgment and that any consideration of the value of the long mission needs careful analysis.
British chief of defence staff, Gen. Sir Nick Houghton says the original purpose of the military operation, to destroy al-Qaeda sanctuaries, was achieved but the ensuing nation-building process remains a work-in-progress.
He says war-weary western countries need to ask what would have happened had they not tried to stabilize Afghanistan and to consider the spillover consequences of instability on nuclear-armed Pakistan.
But others, such as Graeme Smith of the International Crisis Group, say western forces are leaving a security, economic and humanitarian mess after failing in NATO's stated goal of extending the writ of the Afghan government to all corners of the country.
The group, which is preparing to release an exhaustive report later this year, has tracked a 15- to 20-per-cent rise in violence throughout the country since 2012.