12192 Gen. Thomas Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, returns salute to 14596 Maj.-Gen. Dean Milner, last Commander of the Canadian Contribution to the Training Mission in Afghanistan during the flag lowering ceremony at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Photo by: Master Cpl. Patrick Blanchard / Canadian Forces Combat
CANADA’S LEGACY IN AFGHANISTAN: THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES NARRATIVE
In 2001, following the events of 9/11, Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) began a defining chapter in our history by pledging our support to international efforts to combat terrorism and to help stabilize Afghanistan. As announced by the Prime Minister at the NATO Summit in Chicago (May 2012), Canada’s mission in Afghanistan will end in March 2014. By that time, the CAF will have been in Afghanistan approximately the same length of time as the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War combined. In conjunction with the Government of Canada as a whole, CAF/DND has an essential role to play in telling Canada’s story of the hard work, sacrifice and continuous improvement made on-the-ground by our men and women in uniform.
As we enter the final drawdown, plans to communicate our mission in Afghanistan have been developed in accordance with the Government of Canada’s stated intent in the 2013 Speech From the Throne of “marking the end of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan by honouring the service of our men and women in uniform, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice combating the spread of terrorism.” While paying respect to our fallen soldiers and supporting our veterans and our ill and injured, our overarching objective is to communicate to both domestic and international audiences Canada’s legacy in Afghanistan. In addition, we will, in partnership with other government departments, communicate Canada’s military drawdown in the broader context of our ongoing support to Afghanistan.
Insert: Four Ex Cadets who died in Afghanistan: 22458 Nichola Goddard; 22596 Matthew Dawe; 23513 Kenneth O’Quinn; 22007 Michelle Mendes
• Many CAF members have been injured physically and mentally while conducting military operations in Afghanistan, and 158 paid the ultimate sacrifice. The care and support of ill and injured CAF members and their families, and the families of fallen members is a priority for the CAF, DND and the Government of Canada. We remain committed to providing the best possible care and support to CAF personnel who have become ill or injured as a result of service to this country as well as their families and those of the fallen.
The Canadian Armed Forces:
• The first Canadian asset, HMCS HALIFAX, already at sea with the NATO Standing Force Atlantic, is directed to detach from this force and proceed to the Arabian Sea (October 2001);
• Searched for terrorists in Afghanistan’s mountains and caves alongside U.S. forces (2002);
• Increased security around the capital city of Kabul while ensuring the safety of its residents (2003-2005);
• Successfully fought extremist insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar to improve the security of the region (2005-2011); and
• Formed part of a Canadian “whole of government” team that supported development and governance projects in Kandahar, to improve the life of Afghans (2005-2011).
• Trained and mentored the Afghan National Security Forces (2005-2014);
• Lived among the Afghan people to provide security so that development work could begin (2006-2008);
• Were recognized by NATO for their leadership role at the Kandahar Airfield Medical unit in establishing, supporting, and commanding the NATO Multinational Role 3 Medical Unit, the first ever NATO multinational field hospital involved in combat operations (2006-2011);
• Canadian Armed Forces personnel held key leadership positions at all levels of ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, and NATO. And from 2009 to 2011, U.S. fighting battalions were placed under Canadian command, marking the first time the U.S. troops were placed under a foreign combat command;
• Simply put, many Canadians, military and civilian, have put their heart and soul into the mission and at every stage did their very best. Seeing people in need, they reacted, as Canadians and like-minded nations do, with care and compassion;
• In doing our job, we weren’t perfect, but we addressed all challenges head on, and we improved at every turn; and
• Sadly, the mission cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers and injured hundreds more, both physically and mentally. We must never forget to honour their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families and help those who continue to need it
CORE PRODUCTS, PROGRAMMES AND OUTPUTS:
• Flag Lowering in Afghanistan – March 2014
• Soldiers’ Homecoming – Final flight returning TBC March 18, 2014 (arrival location Ottawa TBC to be met by VVIPs)
• Afghan Relay (Trenton to Ottawa, TBC May 4-9, 2014) and “Day of Honour” Parade (Ottawa, TBC May 9, 2014)
• Afghan Memorial Vigil – tours across Canada throughout 2014 and to Washington (May, 2014)
• Dedicated edition of The Maple Leaf , telling the CAF story through the voices of soldiers and senior leaders – March 12, 2014
• Web-based outreach – 100 days of select photos from our mission in Afghanistan to be highlighted on our internet site/Flickr/Twitter with daily tweets out from CJOC, the Environments and ADM(PA)/MLO (December 22, 2013 – March 31, 2014)
• Publication: “Canadian Armed Forces: Afghanistan” EPublication and hardcopy book
• 100 photos travelling exhibit (used for Speakers’ outreach, national and international, both forces members and civilians)
• Speaker’s Bureau strategic outreach with supporting products
• Soldier’s stories as told through video vignettes
Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends
Mixed feelings as Afghanistan mission ends
“The job’s not done,” said (Ret.) Lt.-Col. Peter Dawe. “So that leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I’m happy that no more Canadian soldiers are going to go there and risk there lives for something that doesn’t look like it’s ever going to have a nice, clean ending.”