Canada joined the United Nations-authorized North Atlantic Treaty Organization led International Security Assistance Force focused on helping the Government of Afghanistan assume responsibility for security, governance and development and to help the Afghan people rebuild their nation as a stable, self-sufficient society. Canada has provided nearly $3.7 billion in international assistance since 2001 and continues to support security, development and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan. Canada remains committed to preserving the security, development and human rights gains of the past twenty years, particularly the rights of women and girls.
The combat phase of Canada’s mission came to an end in July 2011, when it transitioned to a training mission focusing on curriculum design and developing teaching skills in Afghanistan’s military and police force training establishments. The Canadian Armed Forces would continue these efforts until the close of our military mission in Afghanistan in March 2014.
More than 40,000 Canadians served in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. Canada’s first contributions came with the deployment of warships to the waters off Southwest Asia in October of 2001, followed by elements of Joint Task Force 2 and the Canadian Army, who deployed to Afghanistan in December in support of efforts to topple the Taliban regime and eliminate al-Qaeda. Additional Canadian soldiers would soon be sent to Kandahar Province in January 2002.
From 2003 until 2005, Canadians were primarily stationed in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, before returning to the more volatile Kandahar region. From 2005 until 2011, the Canadian Armed Forces assumed command of the international efforts to secure Kandahar province, working with civilian colleagues to help bring stability to the southern Afghan province while supporting major humanitarian and nation-building efforts throughout Afghanistan. In Kandahar, Canadians engaged in heavy fighting, including during Operation Medusa in September 2006, which was launched to push the Taliban out of the Panjwai District. With more than 1,000 Canadians taking part, this was Canada’s largest combat operation in more than 50 years.
In total, 158 Canadian Armed Forces members died in service of Canada in Afghanistan, alongside seven Canadian civilians including a diplomat, four aid workers, a government contractor, and a journalist. Thousands more returned with physical and psychological injuries.
Canadians recently had an opportunity to view and share their thoughts on the five proposed designs for the National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan. Once complete, this new monument in Ottawa will recognize the commitment and sacrifice of those who served and the support they received from home.
This 10th anniversary of the end of the combat mission is an opportunity to restate our gratitude for the efforts that Canadians put forth to bring greater stability to Afghanistan and enhance peace and security around the world.
“Lasting nearly a decade, Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan was the longest in our military history, and the bravery demonstrated by every single Canadian who served there – military and civilian alike – is something we all have a duty to remember. Today, we honour the 165 Canadians killed in Afghanistan, and thank the more than 40,000 who answered the call to serve in support of peace and security in Afghanistan.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“This month, we remember the courage and resilience of the Canadian Armed Forces members who deployed to Afghanistan. We honour those who paid the ultimate price both during and after the mission. And we think of all those who have carried the physical and mental wounds of battle to this day. On this tenth anniversary of the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan, we are reminded of the true costs of war, and the price of freedom. We are grateful today, and every day, for the selflessness and bravery of Canada’s military.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence