Friday, 2 December 2011

Canadian Maple Leaf Flag Lowered in Kandahar Ending Canadian Contribution

The Canadian flag was lowered for the last time in Afghanistan ending Canadian contribution in Kandahar province in Afghanistan.  Operation ATHENA started in Kandahar in 2005 and he combat mission ended in July.  About 150 troops remained to pack up equipment and supplies after the combat mission ended. 

“Over the past several years, Canada and the Canadian Forces played a significant role in establishing the security foundation in Kandahar Province that set the conditions for governance and development,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence.

“I’m proud of the work of our men and women in Afghanistan’s most dangerous province. Our commitment is now centred in Kabul, with our military contribution to the NATO Training Mission, which is building the professional capacities of the Afghan National Security Forces.”

Canadian troops initially deployed to Afghanistan in January 2002, when the Third Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant - Colonel Pat Stogran, deployed to Kandahar Airfield (KAF).  Later the Canadians were assigned to a peace support mission in Kabul,  as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  In 2005 the Canadian government committed Canadian troops to a counter-insurgency mission in Kandahar.  Canada was responsible for all of Kandahar province, with the first contingent, commanded by Brigadier General David Fraser, taking on the task.  

After the surge of U.S. troops in 2009, Canadian Forces had reduced responsibility, with a final handover of its Area of Operation in July of this year. 

“After more than six years of continuous combat operations, today we marked the official end of Operation ATHENA in Kandahar Province,” said General Walt Natynczyk, the Chief of the Defence Staff. “Earlier this year, our task force conducted a seamless handover of our area of responsibility to coalition and Afghan forces in the region.

“Our partners, thanks to the professionalism and service of our uniformed men and women, were well positioned to build on our progress and to continue reinforcing the safety and stability of southern Afghanistan. … I’m very proud of the dedication, sacrifice and service of all the men and women of the Canadian Forces who served with distinction in Afghanistan.”

A contingent of 1000 troops still remains in Afghanistan in a training mission, preparing Afghan Security Forces to assume responsibility for the security of their country.    158 Canadian soldiers have paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan.  

Canadian Casualties in Afghanistan 

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