Friday, March 8, 2013

Last Canadian contingent makes preparations for trip to Afghanistan

Preparations are underway for a final deployment of Canadian troops to Afghanistan both at Canadian Forces Base Shilo Manitoba and also at a base in Edmonton Alberta.
Canada's role in Afghanistan began in late 2001 when Joint Task Force 2 soldiers were sent secretly in October 2001. Regular troops arrived in the first two months of 2002. In 2006 Canadian troops were deployed to Kandahar province. In that year, there were 2,500 Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Canada ended its combat role in 2011 but roughly 950 troops remain as part of ISAF mostly in a training role.
In Shilo soldiers ran an exercise for Operation ATTENTION in Kabul, an operation that focuses on training and mentoring the Afghan National Army. This operation will be the last in Afghanistan after more than ten years in the country.
Lt. Col. Michael Wright said that one soldier had already gone to Afghanistan but 300 more were being prepared to go. The soldiers are being trained to train Afghan soldiers. They will also take weapons training and cultural awareness training as part of their preparations.
Wright said:“It's quite fitting soldiers from Shilo and western Canada are going because they were part of the very first mission to Kandahar in 2002."The troops are to return to Canada in March of 2014.
Soldiers from a base in Edmonton will also be deployed to Afghanistan in the spring. Brigadier General Christian Juneau, at a meeting of the Edmonton Sun editorial board, said that the Canadian Forces had learned a great deal for their role in Afghanistan:“We’re a much better army, in my mind, than we were 10 years ago, just by the fact that we were focused on such a specific environment."While there are only a few Canadian troops in Afghanistan at the moment, as many as 900 troops are expected to deploy by early June.
Juneau said:“As we get closer to the end of our mission, the logistics become more robust as we start bringing stuff back home."
Juneau said that the Canadian troops will provide their Afghan counterparts with the tools needed to provide for their own nation's security.
Juneau thought that the Canadian mission in Kandahar was a success noting that when the Canadians arrived:“You could sense the tension in the city. But when we left, the markets were open, you had people gathering at cafes outside and drinking their tea. Just the fact that the situation didn’t deteriorate (is a success) because in my mind, if Canadians would not have been there at that point in time, the Taliban forces probably would have taken Kandahar.”In 2014 Canadian forces will all withdraw from Afghanistan.

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