Canada has had a military presence in Afghanistan since shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. It is difficult, sometimes, to keep track of where and when we were and what we were doing. I have borrowed from published news timelines to help provide some perspective on the unfolding of events relevant to the Canadian Afghan Mission since 2001. I ask that if you were there, have human insights that can be added to the “news” perspective, please either upload your submissions at this sight or send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org
2001 – Borrowed from the National Post http://afghanistan.nationalpost.com/canada-in-afghanistan-2001/
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001.
Sept. 11 Two jetliners crash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and a third plane flies into the Pentagon in Virginia. Canada responds to the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people, by launching “Operation Support,” an initiative that reroutes civilian aircraft to Canadian airports, makes Canadian intelligence available to the U.S., and makes military and humanitarian preparations in case of another attack.
The next day, the NATO North Atlantic Council determines that the events of 9/11 constitute an armed attack against all parties of the North Atlantic Treaty, and decides that the United States and its allies have the right to respond with the use of armed force.
Sept. 20 U.S. President George W. Bush, announces the “War on Terror”, reiterating that Osama bin Laden is the suspected mastermind behind the attacks. Canadian Minister of National Defence, Art Eggleton, says that the more than 100 Canadian Forces members serving in exchange postings abroad have been authorized to participate in operations in response to the attacks.
National Post in Afghanistan: In Peshawar, Pakistan, the Post’s Patrick Graham talks to a former ally of bin Laden’s about the terrorist leader’s countless caves.
Sept. 28 National Post in Afghanistan: Shortly before crossing into Afghanistan, National Post foreign correspondent Patrick Graham filed this report from Mach Mountain, Pakistan, a route long favoured by arms smugglers. On his journey he meets “the Prince,” a high-altitude weapons impresario who laughs at death.
Oct. 2 President Bush launches “Operation Enduring Freedom,” a UN-sanctioned coalition against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Three days later, he asks Canada to join the multinational military coalition when he meets with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
Oct. 7 The U.S. and Britain launch an air assault on Afghanistan which the Taliban refers to as an “attack on Islam.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Chrétien announces “Operation Apollo,” officially pledging air, sea and land support for the international campaign against terror. “I have made clear in the days since Sept. 11 that the struggle to defeat the forces of terrorism will be a long one. We must remain strong and vigilant,” Mr. Chrétien said. “I cannot promise that the campaign against terrorism will be painless, but I can promise that it will be won.”
The next day, Defence Minister Art Eggleton commits 2,000 members of the Canadian Forces to “Operation Apollo,” which is set to conclude in two years. Certain elements of Joint Task Force Two – the Special Operations Forces unit tasked with a broad range of missions including counter-terrorism operations – deploy for an initial six months, but this is not revealed at the time.
National Post editorial board: Once again, Canadian soldiers, sailors and pilots will be marching as to war, as Pierre Berton, the popular Canadian historian, puts it in the title of his most recent book.
Oct. 22 National Post in Afghanistan: Caught between the Taliban and mountains, displaced Afghans have nowhere to go. Patrick Graham reports from Aabpar.
Nov. 12 The Taliban government in Kabul falls to the Northern Alliance.
Nov. 15 Mr. Eggleton announces that Canadian ground troops will be in Afghanistan for a maximum of six months.
“If we had to rotate [troops] for years, then that would become a problem. But we are not planning on that being a requirement,” Mr. Eggleton said. “It is not an offensive mission, not a front-line mission. This is a stabilization mission to assist in opening corridors for humanitarian assistance.”
Nov. 23 National Post editorial board: Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s admission that Canadian ground troops will not be sent to Afghanistan if their deployment entails fighting casts serious doubt — to put it at its mildest — about his government’s commitment to waging liberal democracy’s war against terrorism.
Nov. 27 – Dec. 5 At the Bonn Conference, Germany, participants in the UN talks on Afghanistan establish the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to “assist the Afghan government in the establishment of a secure and stable government.” As well, Afghan opposition leaders set up the Afghan Transitional Authority and choose Hamid Karzai as the interim leader.
Dec. 9 Osama bin Laden evades capture after a standoff with coalition forces in the Afghan mountains and a series of aerial attacks executed by the U.S. in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan.
Dec. 22 National Post editorial board: If Canada is not asked to provide anything in Afghanistan, it is likely because Ottawa has warned the UN or the British not to ask.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 1st, 2001, Posted In: Timelines | Post tags: 2001, 9/11, Hamid Karzai, Jean Chretien, NATO, Northern Alliance, Operation Apollo, Osama bin Laden, United States
Sun. Oct. 7 2001 4:32 PM ET
Prime Minister Jean Chretien has ordered the military on full alert and offered the United States “certain commitments” following the U.S.-led strikes against Afghanistan Sunday. The following is a transcript of his televised speech to Canadians:
On Sept. 11, 2001, Canada and the world looked on in shock and disbelief as the deadliest terrorist attack in history was carried out against thousands of defenceless victims in New York and Washington.
This was an act of premeditated murder on a massive scale with no possible justification or explanation — an attack not just on our closest friend and partner, the United States, but against the values and the way of life of all free and civilized people around the world.
From the moment of the attack, I have been in close communication with President George Bush who has been a symbol to the world of calm, courage, resolve and wisdom. I told him that Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with him and the American people. We are part of an unprecedented coalition of nations that has come together to fight the threat of terrorism. A coalition that will act on a broad front that includes military humanitarian, diplomatic, financial, legislative and domestic security initiatives.
I have made it clear from the very beginning that Canada would be part of this coalition every step of the way.
On Friday evening, the United States asked Canada to make certain contributions as part of an international military coalition against international terrorism.
I immediately instructed our minister of national defence to agree. Yesterday, I met with the chief of the national defence staff to confirm the type of role that Canada was being asked to play. And shortly before noon today, I confirmed to President Bush in a telephone conversation that we would provide the military support requested.
Just after noon, I instructed the chief of defence staff to issue a warning order to a number of units of our Armed Forces to ensure their readiness.
All Canadians understand what is being asked of the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. As always, they are ready to serve. As always, they will do Canada proud. I have spoken as well to the leaders of opposition parties. They pledged their co-operation and I thank them for it.
While I obviously will not be able to provide the Canadian people with operational information that could endanger lives, I intend to offer regular updates on our objectives and efforts. I will meet with my cabinet this week and a take-note debate will be held in Parliament on Monday of next week.
We will also be introducing a series of programs and legislative steps to deal with the threat of terrorism.
I would like to thank all the Canadians who have worked around the clock to come to the aid of our American friends in their time of need. I have made clear in the days since Sept. 11 that the struggle to defeat the forces of terrorism will be a long one. We must remain strong and vigilant. We must insist on living on our terms, according to our values not on terms dictated from the shadows.
I cannot promise that the campaign against terrorism will be painless, but I can promise that it will be won.
Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/CTVNewsAt11/20011007/ctvnews814727/#ixzz1kFVZGto9
Tue. Oct. 9 2001 8:59 AM ET
Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Monday that Canada is sending warships, planes, and special forces troops to join in the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan. The mission is dubbed Operation Apollo.
“Canadian Forces will become an integral part of the overall campaign,” Eggleton told a news conference.
“This campaign will be unlike any campaign we’ve engaged in before,” he said. “Every role in this campaign is significant. Every country determined to halt terror can make an important difference.”
Eggleton said the operation will involve six naval ships, six air force planes, special forces soldiers, and more than 2,000 Canadian troops.
The deployment is currently set to last six months, but that period could be extended if the anti-terror campaign lasts longer, Chief of National Defence Staff General Ray Henault said.
In the next few days, Canadian forces will begin to be deployed, a process that will continue over the coming weeks, Eggleton said.
Canada’s special forces anti-terrorist squad, Joint Task Force 2, has been requested and will be deployed.
Canada will send two frigates, a destroyer and a supply ship along with Sea King helicopters .
Additionally, Eggleton said, six air force planes — three C-130 Hercules transport planes, one airbus and two Aurora maritime patrol planes — are to be sent to the Middle East to support the campaign with surveillance and airlift support.
“Support will also include providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people who have suffered for too long from oppression and want,” Eggleton said.
CFB Trenton is to supply the air component of Canada’s contribution.
Eggleton stressed that the coalition forming to fight terrorism will do battle on numerous fronts and that the government would keep Canadians informed.
“The coalition of nations that has come together to fight the threat of terrorism will act on a broad front. It includes not only military but humanitarian, financial, legislative, diplomatic, and domestic security initiative,” he said.
“We will be providing the Canadian people with regular updates as to our participation and objectives,” Eggleton said.
Eggleton also said that Canada had already responded to U.S. requests for military assistance, providing additional CF-18 fighter jets for increased NORAD vigilance and hundreds of personnel for intelligence gathering and surveillance.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Chretien ordered the military on full alert and offered the United States “certain commitments” following the U.S.-led strikes against Afghanistan.
An unspecified number of military bases across Canada were put on high alert and troops were ordered to be ready to deploy.
Canada has already dispatched the HMCS Halifax to the Persian Gulf, a 4,750-tonne frigate with a crew of 220, where it will likely join a U.S. carrier group.
The HMCS Vancouver will also be deployed and integrated into a U.S. carrier battle group.
Chretien spoke with U.S President George Bush shortly before noon Sunday and pledged Canada’s military support as the U.S. and British forces launched an initial wave of air strikes against Taliban-held territory in Afghanistan.
He said Bush requested on Friday that Canada take part in a “multi-national military coalition” against terrorism.
“Shortly before noon today, I confirmed to President Bush in a telephone conversation that we will provide the military support requested,” Chretien said in a televised speech.
“All Canadians understand what is being asked of the men and women of our armed forces and their families,” Chretien said. “As always, they are ready to serve. As always, they will do Canada proud.”
Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/CTVNewsAt11/20011009/ctvnews814871/#ixzz1kFW9xl00
Wed. Dec. 19 2001 8:50 PM ET
About 40 members of Canada’s elite anti-terrorist group, Joint Task Force 2, are on the ground near Kandahar, Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Wednesday.
In an interview with CTV Newsnet, Eggleton said the troops are assisting U.S., British and Australian special forces as well as local Afghan fighters around Kandahar.
The ultra-secretive unit was deployed in early December, but their exact location had never been disclosed until now. Eggleton would not give any details of the unit’s operations, including whether they have seen any action.
“Reconnaissance is part of what they do, but I can’t go into the whole menu of possibilities because they are assault troops or commandos, they do operate in a covert fashion,” Eggleton said by phone from Brussels, where he was attending NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) meetings.
Kandahar was one of the last Taliban-held cities to fall to opposition fighters. The Kandahar airport is currently under the control of 1,500 U.S. Marines, which have prepared the airfield for military use and set up a camp for 300 Afghan prisoners of war.
JTF-2 is an elite unit based in Dwyer Hill, Ont. near Ottawa. It was created in the early 1990s after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police handed its counterterrorism duties off to the military.
The unit shuns publicity and little is known about the members of JTF-2 except that they’re required to be in top condition and subjected to a series of physical and mental tests.
Originally, the unit specialized in domestic hostage-rescue missions, but in recent years its role has expanded to include special operations and unconventional warfare.
Britain to lead peacekeeping efforts
The assault troops are separate from the peacekeeping forces that Canada has promised to send into Afghanistan soon.
Britain has pledged to lead the international peacekeeping force, while the new interim government takes power. Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain and Canada have all offered troops for the contingent.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien has said that fewer than 1,000 Canadian peacekeepers will be sent in.
British defence officials said Wednesday the lead elements of British troops, comprising 100-200 soldiers, would be in Kabul by Saturday, when the new interim Afghan government takes power. However, the full international force will not be fully in place for at least a month.
Afghanistan’s interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and other members of his post-Taliban government agreed to a multinational peacekeepers force of between 3,000 to 5,000 at UN-sponsored talks in Bonn, Germany earlier this month.
The UN Security Council has yet to formally ratify a resolution permitting an Afghan peacekeeping force but is expected to adopt the resolution by Dec. 22.
Britain told the UN on Wednesday it would only lead a multinational force in Afghanistan for a few months and in the case of a conflict with the U.S. military, the Americans would be in charge.
Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/CTVNewsAt11/20011007/ctvnews814727/#ixzz1kFVZGto9
2002 – Borrowed from the National Post
Posted In: Timelines | Post tags: 2002, Omar Khadr, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Up next: 2002. Jan. 17 Art Eggleton, Minister of National Defence, tells the House of Commons that Canadian troops will hand over any enemy fighters they capture to the Americans. “We do not have detention facilities and our intent would be to turn them over,” Mr. Eggleton said. “I have no reason to believe that they have not been treated fairly, but it is up to the International Red Cross to determine that.”
Jan. 25 Canada formalizes its support for the Afghan interim government by resuming diplomatic ties with Afghanistan for the first time since they were severed following the Soviet Union invasion in 1979.
Jan. 30 Mr. Eggleton admits that he was informed on Jan. 21 that the secret Joint Task Force 2 unit had captured at least three enemy fighters in Afghanistan and turned them over to the U.S. military as part of a classified mission carried out that day. He told Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the Cabinet about the mission Jan. 29.
Feb. 2 One hundred and forty Canadian Forces soldiers arrive in Kandahar to carry out a six-month mission assigned by the National Defence Headquarters. The mission is comprised of four tasks – airfield security, sensitive site exploitation, humanitarian aid, and combat operations that contribute to “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
March 2 Canada contributes to the U.S.-led two-week assault on al-Qaeda positions in the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The U.S. forces commend Canadian snipers for their contribution to “Operation Anaconda.” “They knew when to shoot and when not to shoot,” said U.S. Army Sergeant-Major Mark Neilsen of the 101st Airborne Division, in May. “God Almighty, those guys showed our guys. What a team!” The United States declares the operation an “unqualified and absolute success,” but in Canada, a controversy follows concerning conflicting body count reports.
March 28 The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) is established to “assist the (government) and the people of Afghanistan in laying the foundations for sustainable peace and development.”
April 18 The United States Air Force mistakenly bombs a Canadian Forces night training exercise, killing four soldiers and wounding eight. They are the first Canadian casualties.
National Post in Afghanistan: The soldiers of A Company, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, had less than a second’s warning before a 500-pound bomb from a U.S. fighter burst among them, leaving four dead and eight wounded.
April 23 National Post in Afghanistan: The United States wants to give two teams of Canadian snipers the Bronze Star, a decoration for bravery, for their work in rooting out Taliban and al-Qaeda holdouts in eastern Afghanistan, but Canadian defence officials put the medals on hold, the National Post has learned.
May 4 Four hundred Canadians participate in “Operation Torii” aimed at finding Taliban and al-Qaeda in the cave complexes in the Tora Bora region. During the three day assault, soldiers destroy the complexes to prevent future use. The mission is considered a success, in large part due to Canadian efforts.
May 7 The Post’s Matthew Fisher in Kandahar: The tragedy that befell a dozen soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in the Afghan desert in the wee hours of April 18 was a stark confirmation that battling terrorism is a complicated, perilous, unpredictable business.
May 21 Canada announces that all 750 ground troops will be withdrawn by August, but air, sea and Special Operations Forces will remain.
May 23 National Post editorial board: Tuesday’s decision by the Liberal government to withdraw most of Canada’s troops from Afghanistan by August is a national disgrace. It betrays our allies during a time of war — especially the Americans, who asked us to keep troops in-country six months longer.
June 11 Zahir Shah, former King of Afghanistan, returns from exile to assemble an Afghan tribal council (Loya Jirga) that two days later, establishes the “Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan,” electing Hamid Karzai as President and head of the Afghan Transitional Authority.
July U.S. forces capture a 15-year-old Canadian, Omar Khadr, near Khost, Afghanistan and accuse him of killing a U.S. medic with a grenade. Canadian Foreign Affairs officials are notified of the arrest Aug. 20. He arrives at the Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba in October.
July 1 Operating under “Operation Cherokee Sky,” a Canadian-run effort, about 850 Canadian soldiers sweep Zabul province, a region along the Pakistani border.
July 13-17 Four suspected al-Qaeda members are apprehended by HMCS Algonquin, with the help of Canadian Forces marine patrol aircraft and a French warship.
July 28-30 The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group return to Edmonton.
November “Operation Enduring Freedom” establishes Provincial Reconstruction Teams, tasked with working to support reconstruction efforts and empowering local governments.
Fallen soldiers: Private Nathan Smith, 26; Private Richard Green, 21; Corporal Ainsworth Dyer, 24; Sergeant Marc D. Leger, 29; all of the Third Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died April 18, 2002 in a “friendly fire” incident.
April 19, 2002 – They didn’t see it coming: Canadian soldiers killed by U.S. bomb
By Chris Wattie, with files from Michael Smith April 19, 2002
The soldiers of A Company, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, had less than a second’s warning before a 500-pound bomb from a U.S. fighter burst among them, leaving four dead and eight wounded.
They would have paid little attention to the sound of the jets flying far overhead, focusing instead on their training mission, and one military expert says it is almost impossible to hear an attacking aircraft on a bombing run.
“They wouldn’t have known a thing was wrong until the weapon exploded,” says Sean Maloney, a professor at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. “They might’ve heard the whoosh of the bomb through the air a second before it hit, pushing the air ahead of it as it fell, but that would be it.”
Dr. Maloney says at the speeds modern jets attack, their targets usually neither see nor hear them until after they have passed overhead once their bombs are dropped.
The incident began sometime late Wednesday afternoon, when the nearly 150 officers and men of A Company gathered in small groups in the lines of tents that make up the Canadian sector of the allied base near Kandahar.
The young soldiers of the elite parachute company would have been briefed about the evening’s training mission: a live-firing exercise to practise tactics for coming combat missions against Taliban or al-Qaeda fighters.
Live-firing exercises were routine for the Canadian troops at Kandahar and Dr. Maloney says the commanders would have gone over the battalion’s last mission – a combat sweep of a mountain ridge held by al-Qaeda holdouts in eastern Afghanistan – looking for ways to improve their unit’s performance.
“This is part of the learning curve on a deployment like this…. They’re boning up on the terrain; boning up on the tactics – everything they can think of.”
The members of A Company were some of the toughest soldiers in the Canadian battalion group. Their ranks included some of the most-seasoned veterans in the Canadian military, including some former members of the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment.
“Paratroopers are a special breed of soldiers and these young men were among the finest, bravest paratroops I have ever soldiered with,” Lieutenant-Colonel Pat Stogran, commander of the Canadian battle group, said yesterday.
The maps the NCOs and officers were looking over would have been familiar, showing the area about seven kilometres south of their base at Kandahar’s airport where U.S. and allied forces have been conducting training for months.
The Tarnac Puhl site is a large, mud-walled compound with small hills and the remains of low huts. The area, a former al-Qaeda base, was largely destroyed by U.S. bombing during the war with the former Taliban regime. But since the fall of the Taliban, it has been used by hundreds of coalition troops to maintain their battle readiness in live-fire exercises (using live ammunition).
Sometime after darkness fell, the men of A Company headed to the range. “They would’ve gone over everything they were going to do, then got their kit together and humped out to the site,” Dr. Maloney says.
During live-fire exercises, troops mount a mock assault, charging towards an objective under covering fire. Live ammunition is used to make the training as realistic as possible, and grenades and other explosives are frequently set off.
Dr. Maloney says it is necessary to train with live ammunition from time to time in order to make the troops familiar with conditions as close as possible to actual combat.
“It’s a confidence-building exercise,” he says. “It’s been a while since we’ve done operations like this [deployment to Afghanistan].”
The soldiers of A Company were likely moving in a spread-out formation called “pepper-pot” when the incident occurred, in which alternating groups of men move forward while the rest provide covering fire with rifles or light machine-guns.
“They were probably on the move, rather than in defensive positions,” Dr. Maloney says. “Because if they’d been sitting still, there would’ve been a lot more casualties.”
As the troops charged towards their objective, flashes from their weapons’ muzzles, grenade explosions and tracer rounds – machine-gun bullets that leave a glowing red line through the air – would have been lighting up the Afghan sky. Unbeknownst to the Canadians, that caught someone’s attention high overhead.
U.S. military officials say two F-16 fighter-bombers were on patrol over the Kandahar base that night as part of its defences. The jets circle overhead almost constantly on close air support duty: ready to be called down to bomb any force that attacks the base.
The two F-16s were flown by U.S. Air National Guard pilots, the Pentagon said. Such pilots are often retired veterans called up from civilian jobs for wartime duty.
While the warplanes were flying at altitude, one of the pilots looked through his cockpit canopy and saw what he thought were muzzle flashes from fire directed at him.
The pilot of the lead jet called his tactical air controller – like a military air traffic controller – on the ground in the Kandahar base and requested permission to attack the source of the fire.
The controller denied the aircraft permission to bomb, but when the jets circled back, they again reported muzzle flashes and tracers. The ground controller then gave permission for the F-16s to “paint” or mark the target with a laser target designator mounted on the jet, used to guide its laser-aimed bombs on to targets.
“When they went back to mark the target, they reported taking fire again and the wingman of the two fighters decided that in self-defence he should drop, and he dropped one 500-pound bomb,” said one unidentified U.S. military official. “Unfortunately, what was below them was a Canadian live-fire exercise.”
The high-pitched scream of the jet fighter was audible even at the base and soldiers also reported hearing the characteristic “whump” when the bomb hit at 1:55 a.m. local time.
Some soldiers who witnessed the aftermath of the accident speculated the U.S. warplane dropped an “air-burst” bomb – one that explodes in the air over a target – because there was no crater at the site, only scorched earth.
The Canadians had declared the training area and the airspace above it a restricted “no fly” zone, of which the military air controller was supposed to have been notified.
And Canadian Forces officials insist that at no time had the soldiers of A Company been firing into the air.
Some military experts speculated the pilot might have been fooled by the darkness or by tracer rounds ricocheting skyward after hitting a target on the ground, but all U.S. and Canadian officials will say is the investigation is underway.
Reports quickly flooded into the base and within an hour the area was a beehive of activity in response to the emergency. Rescue teams rushed to retrieve the dead and wounded, and Canadian and U.S. surgeons at base hospitals operated on casualties through the night.
By daybreak, clusters of Canadian soldiers gathered at a bulletin board outside the public affairs office. Many appeared shocked by what they read from a statement about the deaths and injuries suffered by their comrades.
The mood was evident in the solemn movement of the troops on the base. Some talked quietly in small groups. One soldier was slumped in a chair, weeping. Others expressed anger, wanting to know how the accident happened.
Lt.-Col. Stogran said the survivors — those who were not physically wounded in the incident — were “shaken-up and angry.”
“They’re confused,” he said. “There are all sorts of emotions they’re going to have to spend the next 10 years sorting out.”
This entry was posted on Friday, April 19th, 2002, Posted In: National Post in Afghanistan | Post tags: 2002, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
2003 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Feb. 12 At a NATO meeting in Brussels, Defence Minister John McCallum announces a Canadian contribution of 1,900 troops to the UN-mandated security force mission in Kabul, for a period of one year, beginning July 2003. The Canadian Forces agenda is described as a “3-D approach,” providing defence, development and diplomacy in Afghanistan. Canadian generals and military observers say the decision to send so many troops to Afghanistan means Canada will be unable to contribute a meaningful ground force to a war in Iraq, but Mr. Callum says nothing has been ruled out.
March 14 A platoon of the first battalion of The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry deploys to the Arabian Gulf to provide local security for Canadian Forces operating under “Operation Apollo.”
March 20 U.S. President George W. Bush launches “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” with an early morning air strike on Baghdad, less than two hours after the 48-hour deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave the country passes. The invasion of Iraq is ordered on the grounds that Mr. Hussein was working with al-Qaeda and developing weapons of mass destruction.
May 14 Following the termination of “Operation Apollo,” the Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces announces a Battle Group comprised of 2,000 personnel who will maintain Canada’s presence in Afghanistan under a NATO-led security force. A Theatre Activation Team leaves for Kabul to begin setting up camp for “Operation Athena,”
July 3 Diplomat Christopher Alexander is appointed ambassador to Afghanistan.
July 5 Foreign Minister Bill Graham opens a Canadian Embassy in Kabul.
July 17 “Operation Athena,” Canada’s contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), begins and Canadian Brigadier-General Peter Devlin becomes commander of ISAF’s Kabul Multi-National Brigade.
Aug. 16 National Post in Afghanistan: In the unpredictable Paghman district, children swarmed to the sides of the roads as the Canadians rumbled past, waving cheerily, shouting a jumbled “Howareyou?” — the only English they know — or giving the troops a thumbs-up.
Aug. 22 National Post in Afghanistan: National Post reporter Chris Wattie, embedded with Canadian soldiers in Kabul, joins the troops on a patrol of the city for the international security force.
Aug. 11 NATO assumes leadership of ISAF and its mandate is extended to cover all of Afghanistan. Canadian Forces’ Major-General Andrew Leslie appointed Commander for Task Force Kabul and Deputy Commander of ISAF.
Sept. 9 National Post in Afghanistan: Sitting in their unlit house, behind six-metre-high mud brick walls in the heart of a village so hostile to outsiders even heavily armed international troops rarely venture down its narrow roads and lanes, the al-Qaeda militants must have felt safe.
Sept. 11 A Canadian civilian support worker is injured in a rocket attack on Camp Warehouse and Kabul International Airport.
Oct. 2 Ahmed Said Khadr, Omar Khadr’s father and an Egyptian-Canadian member of al-Qaeda, is killed in South Waziristan. His other son, Kareem Khadr, is injured and subsequently returns to Canada. Two Canadian Forces personnel are killed and three injured when their vehicle hits a roadside bomb outside Kabul.
Oct. 4 National Post editorial board: This deployment remains an important part of the battle to rid the world of the terrorists who seek to destroy freedom and undermine the Western way of life. Without Canadian soldiers in Kabul, the 22-year-long Afghan civil war, on hold (mostly) since 2001, would be more likely to resume.
Oct. 18 Prime minister Jean Chrétien becomes the first ever Canadian prime minister to visit Kabul. He meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Lakhdar Brahmi, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative.
Dec. 12 The Canadian Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team uncovers the largest weapons cache found to date in the Chahar Asiab area of Kabul.
Fallen soldiers: Sergeant Robert Alan Short, 41 and Corporal Robbie Beerenfenger, 29, both of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, died in a landmine explosion Oct. 2, 2003.
2004 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. January “Operation Altair” – Canada’s naval contribution to “Operation Enduring” Freedom” – begins with the deployment of HMCS Toronto to operate with USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.
Jan. 4 The Loya Jirga, an assembly of regional leaders and tribal chiefs, ratifies the Afghan constitution.
Jan. 18 Canadian soldiers participating in an anti-drug campaign, dubbed “Operation Tsunami,” help seize a compound used for narcotics trafficking that has possible ties to terrorist activity in Southwest Kabul.
Jan. 27 A suicide attacker kills one Canadian Force member in Kabul and wounds three others.
National Post in Afghanistan: It was a beautiful morning in Kabul, cold but bathed in sunshine. No one at Camp Julien seemed to hear the bomb when it went off at 8:25 a.m. on a busy road less than a kilometre from the camp.
Feb. 9 Canadian Forces’ Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier assumes command of ISAF, his position lasts until Aug. 12.
March 13 Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for the bombing of commuter trains in Spain that killed 191 people and injured 1,700 two days earlier.
May “Operation Damocles” – a search and destroy mission operating in rural regions west of Kabul, run by members of the Royal 22nd Regiment (Van Doos) – destroys large quantities of enemy artillery and small arms ammunition.
June 4 Lieutenant Colonel Robert Jansen is deployed as military advisor to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) under “Operation Accius.”
Aug. 19 National Post editorial board: There’s an old adage that still rings true in the media: If it bleeds, it leads. News stories involving violence consistently make headlines while less dramatic items slip through the cracks.
Sept. 27 National Post editorial board: It is not yet clear just how or when Canada’s military role in Afghanistan will expand. A new mission statement and rules of engagement are not likely before November, and a redeployment of our troops into the so-called Afghan badlands before 2005 is unlikely. Oct. 9 The first democratic election takes place in Afghanistan, and Hamid Karzai is elected president.
Dec. 9 Mr. Karzai is inaugurated as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Fallen soldiers: Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26 of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment died Jan. 27, 2004 in an explosion caused by a suicide attacker.
2005 – Borrowed from the National Post
Posted In: Timelines | Post tags: 2005
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Jan. 14 Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier, who commanded NATO forces – almost 7,000 troops from 36 countries – in Afghanistan in 2004, is appointed Canada’s Chief of the Defense Staff.
Feb. 13 Defence Minister Bill Graham announces a doubling of Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan by the summer.
March 21 General Hillier announces that a battle group will be deployed to Kandahar, a more volatile region than Kabul, and the Canadian Forces will shift their focus to that province.
May 18 National Post editorial board: In the wake of its much-derided proposal to send a handful of unarmed Canadian “military advisors” to Darfur, the Liberal government has unveiled a far more constructive plan to expand the country’s role in Afghanistan.
June 10 National Post editorial board: On April 17, 2002, the lives of four Canadian soldiers were lost when F-16 pilot Major Harry Schmidt dropped a 500-pound bomb on their training exercise in Afghanistan. This week, insult was added to injury when that same pilot went on American national television to repeat his absurd and insulting assertion that he was acting in self-defence.
July The Canadian Forces’ primary contribution to “Operation Enduring Freedom” becomes “Operation Archer.” Mentors and trainers organize, train, equip, employ and support the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.
July 7 Al-Qaeda bombs London, killing 52 people. The terrorist attack is timed to coincide with the G8 summit in Scotland.
July 14 General Hillier announces that Joint Task Force 2 commandos will deploy to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban elements, described by Gen. Hillier as “detestable murderers and scumbags.”
August The International Security Assistance Force extends their operations beyond Kabul. The Canadian Forces assume control of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT), from the U.S. Their duties include protecting the KPRT commander and staff, and quick-impact reconstruction and development projects managed by military engineers. The first Canadian Operational Mentor and Liason Team is deployed to Kandahar Province to work with the Afghan National Army.
September Under “Operation Argus,” the Strategic Advisory Team — Afghanistan (SAT-A) — is implemented with a mandate to offer assistance to senior bureaucrats in Afghan government ministries. The operation is staffed by an officer from the Canadian International Development Agency and 14 members of the Canadian Forces.
Sept. 18 Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) and Provincial Council elections that involve the Joint Electoral Management Body in Kabul are held with the help of the UN and security from the International Election Support Force. The election is considered a peaceful success, due in large part to foreign troops, including Canadian soldiers.
October David Sproule replaces Chris Alexander as Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan.
Oct. 1 The Taliban begins a wave of suicide attacks that specifically target the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. Twenty-six attacks take place over the next 18 months.
Oct. 5 An unsuccessful attempt to strike a Canadian Forces convoy with a vehicle laden with explosives just outside of Kandahar, injures a local farmer, kills his son, and three Canadian soldiers suffer minor injuries.
Oct. 11 A rocket strikes the Canadian Embassy in Kabul. Two Afghan security guards suffer minor injuries.
Oct. 18 “Operation Athena,” Canada’s initial contribution to “Operation Enduring Freedom,” based in Kabul, comes to an official end.
Nov. 29 Canadian Forces officially hand over Camp Julien in Kabul – its main base in Afghanistan for the past two years – to the Afghan National Army and head to the southern city of Kandahar.
Dec. 15 National Post editorial board: The reluctance of Canadian political leaders to make the presence of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan an issue in the federal election campaign is a sign of respect for the dangerous job the soldiers are doing and, more particularly, an acknowledgment that most Canadians understand full well why they are there and support their deployment. Dec. 18 Gen. Hillier and Afghanistan’s Defence Minister, Abdul Raheem Wardak, sign a deal that will see all terrorism suspects and Taliban terrorists captured by the Canadian Forces, turned over to the Afghan National Army or the Afghan National Police. The agreement includes a guarantee that all detainees will be treated in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention.
Dec. 19 Inauguration of the Afghan National Assembly.
Fallen soldiers: Private Braun Scott Woodfield, 24 of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment died in a traffic accident.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2005, Posted In: Timelines | Post tags: 2005
2006 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Jan. 31 The Afghan government pledges to build an Afghan National Army of 70,000 soldiers by 2010 when they sign the Afghanistan Compact. The agreement also states objectives aimed at achieving stability and security by strengthening Afghan institutions and coordinating counter-terrorism operations.
Jan. 15 A suicide car bombing kills Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry, and injures three soldiers. The Taliban claims responsibility for the attack in a statement released a month later that describes the bomber as a “holy warrior.”
February The Canadian-led Multinational Medical Unit opens up at Kandahar Airfield. The “Role 3” hospital provides specialist services with major surgical capabilities, and 80 of the 120 medical staff are Canadians.
Feb. 4 National Post in Afghanistan: It’s a long, bumpy trip to this village outside Kandahar, but Master Corporal Andrew Forbes and the crew of Bravo 2 never stop watching for the ever-present danger of ambush or bombs.
Feb. 6 Stephen Harper becomes Prime Minister.
Feb. 11 The first soldiers of the Canadian Task Force Orion head out into “Taliban country” for a six-month patrol of a 4,000-square-kilometre area north of Kandahar.
National Post in Afghanistan: After two weeks of probing and testing the Canadian soldiers who have been patrolling Taliban territory around Kandahar, the insurgents have learned to beware the soldiers with the maple leaf on their shoulders.
Feb. 28 Brigadier General David Frasier assumes command of the multinational brigade (including 2,200 Canadian Forces personnel) based in Kandahar.
Mar. 4 A Taliban supporter attacks Trevor Greene, a Civilian-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) officer, with an axe, almost slicing his brain in two. Mr. Greene is transported to hospital, marking the beginning of a long recovery.
National Post editorial board: Saturday’s barbarous axe attack on Canadian military officer Trevor Greene is being cited to impugn our soldiers’ new offensive role in Afghanistan — notably by the federal NDP, which is invoking the familiar argument that Canadians should be peacekeepers rather than combatants.
March 14 Mr. Harper travels to Kandahar to meet with Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai who expresses his gratitude for all that Canada has done. “Our two principal military objectives are to fight terrorism, fight the forces of terror here, and to reduce the threat,” Mr. Harper said. “The second is to aid the Afghan forces in fighting it themselves. And so I would hope if we reduce our commitments in the future, it’s because we’re having success in these two objectives.”
April 2 Canadian Forces at a Forward Operating Base in Helmand help ensure the the insertion of additional British Forces into the province, without Taliban interference.
May 15 – July 31 Canadian Forces contribute to the NATO-led “Operation Mountain Thrust” in the Zhari and Panjwaii districts. The aim is to decrease Taliban influence and military activity in south east Afghanistan through military operations, followed by an increased security presence and aid programs. Over the course of two days in June, Canadian Forces kill at least twelve Taliban, wound eight and capture two suspected members.
May 17 Canadian, Afghan and American forces undertake “Operation Bravo Guardian” to clear known Taliban safe havens in Kandahar province. A day-long standoff takes place including an ambush on Canadian Forces from three directions that kill a captain – the first female casualty in Afghanistan – who had been coordinating the air attack. The Taliban suffers significant casualties. Mr. Harper introduces a motion in the House of Commons to extend Canada’s mission in Afghanistan – set to end February 2007 – by two years. The House of Commons supports the Conservative motion 149-145.
National Post editorial board: Stephen Harper was not required to hold a vote on Canada’s military commitment in Afghanistan. He had the authority to extend and expand the mission until February, 2009, without consulting Parliament.
May 23-June 14 Task Force Orion of the Canadian Forces engages the Taliban up to 37 times, preventing insurgents from entering Kandahar city and avoiding urban combat and potential civilian casualties.
May 30 Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor says that fighting violent insurgents is just one of many tasks Canadian soldiers must undertake. “The military has to conduct a range of activities,” he told a Commons committee. “I don’t consider this war.”
June 2 The RCMP charge 12 adults and five juveniles with offences under the Anti-terrorism Act. Another suspect is later apprehended and the group becomes known as the “Toronto 18.” They allegedly planned to take hostages on Parliament Hill and kill the Prime Minister unless Canada withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and released all Muslims from Canadian prisons.
July 1 The Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency opens the first Tim Hortons in Afghanistan, at Kandahar Air Field.
July 31 NATO assumes control of all military operations in southern Afghanistan. Canadian Forces personnel transferred from the U.S.-led “Operation Enduring Freedom,” to NATO.
August 2-3 Four soldiers die and 11 Canadian Forces personnel are injured during close combat with insurgents.
National Post editorial board: We have never wavered in our support for Canada’s Afghan mission — neither when it was largely a defensive operation at coalition headquarters in the capital, Kabul, nor more recently, when it expanded into a combat role in the south of Afghanistan. And we do not waver now.
Sept. 4 One Canadian soldier dies and dozens are wounded when two U.S. attack jets – called in for close air support – mistakenly fire on soldiers along the front lines of battle.
Sept. 16 In an interview with CBC Radio’s Kathleen Petty, Mr. Harper acknowledges that Canada is at war.
“The fact of the matter is we are engaged in a war in Afghanistan. We have been for some years, but we are today at the front lines of that war, and that’s a very real thing that we have to manage.”
Sept. 17 Officials say “Operation Medusa,” a two-week military offensive in southern Afghanistan, successfully drove the Taliban from the region. NATO reports 512 insurgents killed and 136 taken prisoner. Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, commander of NATO forces in the southern region, declares the operation a success but warns not to expect a reprieve.
“What we saw here was a success against the Taliban. But that’s only one area in a very, very large battle space,” he told reporters at the Kandahar Air Field base. “We have to be ready for the next fight.”
Sept. 18 Four Canadian soldiers die and 21 are injured in the worst suicide attack against Canadian Forces. A suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated in Kafir Band village in the Panjwaii district.
Sept. 21 Mr. Karzai visits Ottawa and commends the Canadian Forces on its efforts in Afghanistan while making a plea for continued involvement. Mr. Harper reassures him that Canada will likely remain involved beyond the Feb. 2009 withdrawal date. “Your service in Afghanistan is no doubt a service to the Afghan people for our security, our livelihood, but it is also equally a service to Canadian security and Canadian safety,” Mr. Karzai said.
Nov 1 Brigadier-General Tim Grant assumes command of Canadian Task Force Kandahar.
Dec. 15 The International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Security forces launch a military campaign dubbed “Operation Baaz Tsuka,” in Kandahar province. As part of the operation, Canadian Forces personnel try to convince second-tier Taliban fighters to disarm and return to their villages.
Dec. 26 National Post in Afghanistan: Warning their enemies to “pack up” and leave, or face a “major force” of coalition troops now assembling in the Taliban-dominated hotbed of Zhari and Panjwaii districts, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) yesterday launched a new military campaign in Kandahar province.
Fallen soldiers: Glyn Berry, 59, director of Foreign Affairs Canada died following a suicide attack, Jan. 15; Corporal Paul Davis, 28, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died March 2 in a LAV III traffic accident; Master Corporal Timothy Wilson, 30, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died March 5 in a LAV III traffic accident; Private Robert Costall, 22, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died March 29 during a ground offensive; Lieutenant William Turner, 45, of the 20th Field Artillery Regiment, Corporal Randy Payne, 32, from the 1 Garrison Military Police Company, Bombardier Myles Mansell, 25, of the 5th Field Artillery Regiment (Victoria, British Columbia), and Corporal Matthew Dinning, 23, of 2 Military Police Platoon, died in a roadside bomb April 22; Captain Nichola Goddard, 26, of the 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery died in a ground offensive, May 17; Corporal Anthony Boneca, 21, of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment died July 9 during a ground offensive; Corporal Jason Warren, 29, of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, and Corporal Francisco Gomez, 44, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died July 22 in a suicide attack; Corporal Christopher Reid, 34, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in a roadside bomb the same day. Corporal Bryce Keller, 27, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Sergeant Vaughan Ingram, 35, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and Private Kevin Dallaire, 22, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died Aug. 3 during a ground offensive; Master Corporal Raymond Arndt, 31 of The Loyal Edmonton Regiment died in a traffic accident Aug. 5; Master Corporal Jeffrey Walsh, 33, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in a shooting accident, Aug. 9; Corporal Andrew Eykelenboom, 23, of the 1st Field Ambulance died Aug. 11 in a suicide bomber attack; Corporal David Braun, 27, of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in a suicide bomber attack, Aug. 22; Sergeant Shane Stachnik, 30, of the 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, Warrant Officer Richard Nolan, 39, Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, 38, and Private William Cushley, 21, all of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment died Sept. 3 during a ground offensive; Private Mark Graham, 33, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment died Sept. 4, in a “friendly fire” incident; Corporal Keith Morley, 30, Corporal Shane Keating, 30, and Private David Byers, 22, all of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and Corporal Glen Arnold, 32, of the 2nd Battalion, 2 Field Ambulance died Sept. 18, in a suicide bomber attack; Private Josh Klukie, 23, of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment killed by IED, Sept. 29; Corporal Robert Mitchell, 32, and Sergeant Craig Gillam, 40, both of the Royal Canadian Dragoons died Oct. 3 in an insurgent attack; Trooper Mark Wilson, 39, of the Royal Canadian Dragoon killed by an IED, Oct. 7;Private Blake Williamson, 23, and Sergeant Darcy Tedford, 32, both of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, die Oct. 14, in an insurgent attack; Corporal Albert Storm, 36, and Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard, 46, both of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment killed in a suicide bomber attack, Nov. 27.
2007 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Jan. 2 Mullah Dadullah, a top commander in the Taliban, warns of a spring-offensive and heavy casualties.
Jan. 25 A Joint Intelligence Operations Centre opens at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters. The centre will allow Afghan and Pakistani military officers to collaborate on campaign planning for intelligence and information operations with the assistance of ISAF personnel.
February Road access on Highway 1 is restored, allowing the safe flow of commercial traffic and improving the flow of civilian traffic. University of Ottawa law professor, Amir Attaran obtains documents from the Department of National Defence through the Access to Information Act. After reviewing them, he says they contain evidence of the abuse of detainees in the custody of Canadian Forces.
Feb. 1 The Taliban take control of Musa Qala district in Helmland province, an area known to be the biggest opium producer in the world.
Feb. 21 National Post editorial board: On Monday, for the first time in a generation, the Governor-General presented Canadian soldiers with medals for combat valour. As soldiers have always understood well, these medals each reward one conspicuous series of actions under fire, but they represent our gratitude for a hundred more that might have gone unseen or unrecorded.
March 6 Approximately 5,500 NATO and Afghan troops position themselves in Northern Helmland province under “Operation Achilles,” to focus on violent districts controlled by the Taliban in this region. Canada plays a supporting role in the operation aimed at establishing security in advance of an anticipated Taliban spring-offensive.
April 6 A roadside bomb kills six Canadian soldiers west of Kandahar City, and injures two others.
April 10 Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor says Canadian troops could withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2010, so long as Afghan security forces meet their expansion targets. “We don’t want to be there forever. Our exit strategy is to try to get Afghan governance, development and security to such a level that they can look after themselves,” he said in an interview with the National Post. “We will probably have to provide aid there for many, many years but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to keep large security forces there. If the Afghan army and police can get to some reasonable level — in their value system, not ours — that will allow NATO to withdraw.”
April 11 Two Canadian soldiers die in a roadside bomb explosion west of Kandahar en route to help three fellow soldiers injured by a roadside bomb an hour earlier.
April 18 A Canadian soldier falls from a communications tower in Kandahar and dies.
May 3 Canada signs a re-written prisoner transfer agreement with Afghanistan that will allow them more access to insurgents captured by Canadians and turned over to Afghan authorities.
May 12 Mullah Abdullah, the Taliban’s second-in-command, dies during a clash with NATO, ISAF and Afghan forces in Helmand province.
May 22 Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and review mission objectives. He also suggests that Canada could extend their mission beyond the February 2009 deadline.
“You know that your work is not complete. You know that we cannot just put down our arms and hope for peace. You know that we can’t set arbitrary deadlines and hope for the best,” Mr. Harper said in a speech to Canadian troops.
National Post in Afghanistan: Dust whips across the desert floor as the troops of Canada’s Charlie Company wrap up “operation Midas” — a NATO show of force in a village reportedly rife with Taliban.
May 29 National Post in Afghanistan: At the best of times, Dr. Sharifa Siddiqi has an unenviable job. As director of southern Afghanistan’s main civilian hospital, she oversees an under-equipped, dishevelled facility that must nevertheless care for a flood of seriously wounded from one terrorist bombing after another.
May 30 A Canadian combat photographer and six other NATO troops die when a U.S. helicopter is shot down in Helmand Province. The Taliban claims responsibility.
June 11 National Post in Afghanistan: Major Dave Quick and Captain Mark Shepperd are losing patience fast. The two Canadian infantry officers are trying to establish whether Taliban fighters are using this tree-lined Afghan village as a base, but the answers seem to change by the minute.
June 18 ABC news obtains video footage of an al-Qaeda-Taliban training camp graduation ceremony, reportedly held on June 9, that was shot by a Pakistani journalist. The video shows a group of about 300 men apparently being sent out on suicide missions across the West. Canadian and U.S. officials downplay any potential danger. “While we’re not immune from threats and no system is 100% perfect, we feel confident that people coming from a group like that would be detected,” said Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.
June 19 National Post in Afghanistan: They may no longer run the government, but southern Afghanistan’s influential religious leaders continue to make life painfully hard for women, says Kandahar’s new director of women’s affairs.
July 4 Six Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter die when their armored vehicle hits a roadside bomb on their way back from combat in the Panjwaii district.
1 August Canadian Forces Brigadier-General Guy LaRoche assumes command of Task Force Afghanistan.
Aug. 10 National Post editorial board: Major Wallace Noseworthy, a Canadian army reservist and soon-to-be father, has just returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Though he’s thankful not to have been killed or injured in Afghanistan, he isn’t thrilled about things on the home front.
Aug. 14 Peter McKay replaces Mr. O’Connor as Minister of Defence.
September The Canadian Operational Mentor and Liaison Team based in Kandahar forms a sub-unit – a Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Team – to “develop ANP (Afghan National Police) professionalism and autonomy by providing training, assistance and expert advice.” The operation also facilitates liaisons between the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army and ISAF.
Oct. 12 The Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, chaired by former Liberal Deputy Minister John Manley, is created to advise the government on mission options following the February 2009 withdrawal date.
“This is not an easy question,” the Prime Minister says at a news conference to announce the panel. “I think we would all be well advised to take a deep breath and to take a look at the facts before we rush to judgment.” The panel is due to report back to Parliament before the end of January 2008.
Nov. 28 The Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan leaves the war-torn country after a week-long fact-finding visit.
Dec. 6 National Post editorial board: Our troops are good at what they do in Afghanistan. True, some aid groups have recently said their convoys are being inspected at Taliban checkpoints that operate in the open. And the controversy over the treatment of prisoners we turn over to the Afghan authorities lingers still — at least in opposition politicians’ minds.
Fallen Soldiers: Corporal Kevin Megeney, 25, of the 1st Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders died in a non-combat related incident March 6; Private Kevin Kennedy, 20, Private David Greenslade, 20, Corporal Aaron Williams, 23, Corporal Brent Poland, 37, and Sergeant Donald Lucas, 31, all of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, and Corporal Christopher Stannix, 24, of the Princess Louise Fusiliers killed by a roadside bomb, April 8; Trooper Patrick Pentland, 23, and Master Corporal Allan Stewart, 31, both of The Royal Canadian Dragoons killed by a roadside bomb, April 11; Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer, 25, of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command died in a non-combat-related accident April 18; Corporal Matthew Cully, 25, of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron died in an IED explosion, May 25; Master Corporal Darrell Priede, 30, of the Army News Team, died in a U.S. Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan May 30; Trooper Darryl Caswell, 25, of The Royal Canadian Dragoons died in a roadside bomb, June 11; Private Joel Wiebe, 22, Corporal Stephen Bouzane, 26, and Sergeant Christos Karigiannis, 31, all of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion, June 20; Private Lane Watkins, 20, Corporal Cole Bartsch, 23, Captain Matthew Dawe, 27, and Corporal Jordan Anderson, 25, all of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Captain Jefferson Francis, 37, of the 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and Master Corporal Colin Bason, 28, of The Royal Westminster Regiment were killed in an IED explosion, July 4; Private Simon Longtin, 23, of the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment died in an IED explosion, Aug. 19; Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier, 43, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment and Master Corporal Christian Duchesne, 34, of the 5th Field Ambulance, 5 Area Support Group both died in a landmine explosion, and Major Raymond Mark Ruckpaul, 42, of the Armoured Corps, The Royal Canadian Dragoons died in a non-combat related death, Aug. 22;Corporal Nathan Hornburg, 24, of The King’s Own Calgary Regiment died in a mortar attack, Sept. 24; Corporal Nicolas Beauchamp, 28, of the 5 Field Ambulance, and Private Michel Jr. Lévesque, 25, from the 3 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment died in an IED explosion Nov. 17; Gunner Jonathan Dion, 27, of the 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada died in an IED explosion Dec. 30.
2008 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Jan. 21 National Post in Afghanistan: Ragged, poor, and ailing, they came from all around Spin Boldak, a city of 30,000 just six kilometres from the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, at the very edge of Kandahar province.
Jan. 22 The Manley Panel Report recommends that Canada stay in Afghanistan past the February 2009 withdrawal date, but calls for a gradual military shift from combat to training so that the Afghan National Security Forces can meet security needs in Kandahar by 2011, when the Afghan Compact expires. The report lists two conditions that must be met: NATO and other allies must assign an additional 1,000 personnel to Kandahar before February 2009, and the Canadian government must purchase new helicopters and surveillance equipment.
Jan. 26 National Post editorial board: The question of what our troops are to do with Afghans detainees continues to bedevil the Harper government. Much of this is the doing of opposition spin doctors and their friends in the Parliamentary press gallery.
Jan. 28 Prime Minister Stephen Harper accepts the main recommendations of the Manley report on Afghanistan and commits to personally leading an effort to secure more troops and equipment for Canadian forces. He says the report’s recommendations give him “tremendous ammunition” to take to a NATO summit in Romania.
Feb. 4 National Post in Afghanistan: Canadian and Afghan National Army soldiers are kicking down doors and bursting into residential compounds in this Taliban fiefdom, looking for insurgents responsible for a wave of deadly attacks.
Feb. 18 National Post in Afghanistan: Scores of Afghan civilians were killed by a suicide bomber yesterday morning at a dogfighting rally 10 kilometres northwest of Kandahar city, an area that falls inside the Canadian military’s zone of security and combat operations in southern Afghanistan.
March 20 The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan renews its mandate under Security Council Resolution 1806.
April 24 NATO meets in Bucharest and France commits to sending an additional 700 troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, enabling the U.S. to pledge 1,000 additional personnel for Kandahar. Mr. Harper says that Canada came to the summit seeking a commitment from its allies that meets the conditions for extending the country’s mission in Afghanistan, and succeeded. Mr. Harper adds that considerable progress has been made to secure the equipment the Manley report recommended for Canadian troops, including a pledge from Poland to loan some of its aircraft.
April 27 The Taliban fire guns and rockets at a ceremony commemorating the 16th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence. The attack is considered an assassination attempt against Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but he escapes unharmed. Three people die and 10 are injured in the assault.
May Hundreds of prisoners in Sarpoza Prison, Kandahar go on hunger strike to protest alleged torture at the facility. Forty-seven inmates reportedly sew their mouths shut.
May 12 Mr. Harper announces a 20-year defence strategy worth about $30-billion that pledges increased troop numbers and new equipment for the Canadian military. Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the plan includes the immediate allocation of money to buy six medium-lift helicopters to support troops in Afghanistan.
June 13 The Taliban launches a nighttime attack on Sarpoza Prison. A truck full of explosives detonates outside the prison gates, allowing a suicide bomber the opportunity to set off more bombs inside. As many as thirty insurgents on motorcycles raid the prison, killing nine staff and enabling many of the 1,200 prisoners to escape.
Aug. 8 In accordance with conditions set out in the March 13 parliamentary motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan until 2011, Mr. MacKay, and Minister of Public Works Christian Paradis announce that Canada will obtain additional air resources. Initial delivery is planned for 2009.
Aug. 15 National Post editorial board: From 2004 till this year, the received wisdom was that Iraq was an apocalyptic failure, while Afghanistan was a troubled, but improving work in progress. Recent events have spun that view on its head.
Aug. 25 National Post in Afghanistan: The National Post’s Scott Deveau was embedded with Canada’s soldiers in Afghanistan. He survived an IED blast that wounded six Canadian soldiers and fellow reporter Tobi Cohen of the Canadian Press. This is his account of the experience.
Sept. 10 National Post in Afghanistan: The blast from an improvised explosive device that claimed the life of yet another Canadian soldier last weekend has become an all-too-familiar sound for the troops fighting the Taliban-led insurgency in Kandahar.
Sept. 23 National Post editorial board: The second battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) have returned home from Afghanistan. Theirs was a particularly brutal tour.
Oct. 20 National Post in Afghanistan: As he girded himself for another shift protecting a massive NATO supply convoy this week, Rozi Mohammed made a frank admission: The work terrifies him.
Oct. 27 National Post in Afghanistan: As Canadian Forces continue to fight and die throughout Kandahar province, the Taliban have quietly set up parallel governments only kilometres away from the provincial capital, local residents say.
Dec. 5 The death of Corporal Mark McLaren is marked by a grim milestone, as he becomes the 100th Canadian casualty in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device kills him and two fellow soldiers.
Dec. 27 Canadian Forces participate in a disruption and search operation near Senjaray, Zhari District to enhance security for voter registration. Troops discover and destroy three IED production factories, discover a weapons cache of small arms, rockets, grenades, and ammunition and assist in neutralizing an insurgent trying to plant an IED. A suspected local insurgent commander is also captured.
Dec. 31 Captain Robert Semaru is charged with the second degree murder of an unarmed, wounded Taliban insurgent after the Canadian Forces National Investigation service starts to look into the alleged incident that took place in October 2008.
Fallen Soldiers: Corporal Éric Labbé, 31, and Warrant Officer Hani Massouh, 41, both of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment die when a military vehicle rolls over Jan. 6; Trooper Richard Renaud, 26, of 12e Régiment blindé du Canada died in an improvised explosive device blast Jan. 15; Corporal Étienne Gonthier, 21, of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED explosion Jan. 23; Trooper Michael Hayakaze, 25, of Lord Strathcona’s Horse died in an IED explosion March 2; Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet, 22, of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery died in a non-combat related incident March 2; Sergeant Jason Boyes, 32, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an explosion March 16; Private Terry Street, 24, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion April 4; Corporal Michael Starker, 36, of 15 Field Ambulance died during an insurgent attack; May 6; Captain Richard Leary, 32, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died during an insurgent attack, June 3; Captain Jonathan Snyder, 26, of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died after falling down a well during a nighttime patrol June 7; Corporal Brendan Downey, 36, of the Military Police Detachment died in a non-combat related incident July 4. Private Colin Wilmot, 24, of 1 Field Ambulance died in an IED explosion July 5; Corporal James Arnal, 25, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion July 18; Master Corporal Joshua Roberts, 29, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, died in an IED explosion Aug. 9; Master Corporal Erin Doyle, 32, of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, died during an insurgent attack Aug. 11; Sergeant Shawn Eades, 33, Corporal Dustin Wasden, 25, Sapper Stephan Stock, 25, all of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED explosion, and Private Chadwick Horn, 21, of 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group died in an insurgent attack Aug. 11; Corporal Michael Seggie, 21 and Corporal Andrew Grenon, 23, both of 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group died in an insurgent attack Sept. 3; Sergeant Prescott Shipway, 36, of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group died in an IED explosion Sept. 7; Private Demetrios Diplaros, 24, Corporal Mark McLaren, 23, and Warrant Officer Robert Wilson, 37, all of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment died in an IED explosion Dec. 5; Private Justin Jones, 21, and Corporal Thomas Hamilton, 26, both of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment died in an IED explosion Dec. 13; Private Michael Freeman of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment died in an IED explosion Dec. 26; Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge, 45, of the 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada and Sergeant Gregory Kruse, 40, of the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group died in an IED explosion Dec. 27.
2009 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Jan. 2 Canadian soldiers shoot and kill a would-be suicide bomber attempting to drive an explosive-laden vehicle into a Canadian Forces security patrol in the Shawali Kot district, north of Kandahar city. Major David Warke says that the explosive on board the vehicle had the potential to cause significant damage within a 1,500-metre range.
February Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan receive six CH-47 Chinook medium-lift helicopters from the U.S. Army, and Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance assumes command of Task Force Kandahar, the formation conducting the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in the province.
March “Operation Kalay I” begins with the implementation of a counter-insurgency “Clear, Hold, Build” strategy. Personnel go village to village in Kandahar province, clearing insurgents out of the area, and then Civil-Military Co-operations teams assist in rebuilding and re-establishing order.
March 3 National Post editorial board: For some time, it has been clear that complete eradication of the Taliban in Afghanistan is impossible. It has too many domestic supporters inside the country and — more importantly — receives too much aid and safe haven across the border in Pakistan.
May 9 National Post in Afghanistan: Villagers in a Taliban-controlled area west of Kandahar City are applauding last week’s drawback of Canadian and Afghan troops, saying the presence of coalition forces in their communities had only complicated their lives.
May 30 National Post in Afghanistan: The Taliban “never lie.” So says one of the insurgent group’s usual spokesmen, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, speaking via cellphone recently from an undisclosed location.
June Canadian Forces’ Brigadier-General Eric Tremblay leaves for Kabul to act as the NATO-ISAF spokesman, and U.S. General Stanley McChrystal assumes command of NATO-ISAF.
June 23 Afghan National Security Forces support villagers in Deh-e-Bagh who want to provide for their own security, and encourage neighbouring communities to do the same. Gen. McChrystal suggests the initiative could and should be replicated elsewhere. “Three things are really important: security, development and good governance,” said Hamdullah Nazak, the 31-year-old leader of Dand district. “The Taliban feel discouraged and defeated when they see locals working, and the community progressing.”
July 3 An improvised explosive device detonation narrowly misses the vehicle of Brig.-Gen. Vance. The explosion kills a Canadian soldier.
August William Crosbie assumes the role of Canada’s fifth ambassador to Afghanistan, taking over from Ron Hoffman whose two-year term ended July 17. “This country has challenges and a long way to go to overcome its security issues and institution building,” Mr. Hoffman said. “But I’m also confident as I leave that Afghanistan will succeed because we have seen solid progress.”
Aug. 20 Afghanistan holds a successful federal election, but fewer Afghans vote than in the first Presidential election in 2004, with the lowest numbers reported in Kandahar. Allegations of election fraud surface, and 225 complaints are lodged with the UN-run Election Complaints Commission. Meanwhile, nearly 450 security incidents are reported, the highest number on a single day since 2001.
Aug. 25 “Operation Kalay II” is launched with a mandate to stabilize the Dand district and begin building in southern Afghanistan. Canadian Forces are free to focus on developing relations with villages now that the Stryker combat teams from the U.S. Army have relieved some of the demand for security forces in Kandahar province.
Oct. 14 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces that Canada will end its military mission in Afghanistan in December 2011, in accordance with a motion passed by Parliament in 2008. “The plan is to move to a civilian, development, humanitarian mission,” he said.
Nov. 19 Brigadier-General Daniel Menard becomes commander of Joint Task Force Afghanistan.
Dec. 1 U.S. President Barack Obama announces another 30,000 troops for the war in Afghanistan, but says American troops will begin to leave the war-torn country by July 2011, if conditions permit. “Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully,” Mr. Obama said. By midsummer, the United States will have almost 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.
National Post editorial board: Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday laid out his vision of how to win the war in Afghanistan. Until then, the U.S. President had been insulated from criticism on the issue; he could point to the prior administration as the source of every setback.
Dec. 31 National Post editorial board: It is always deeply devastating to learn that yet another Canadian soldier has died in the war in Afghanistan. Four more made the ultimate sacrifice yesterday, including Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang.
Fallen soldiers: Trooper Brian Good, 43, of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group died in an improvised explosive device blast Jan. 7; Sapper Sean Greenfield, 25, of the 24 Field Engineer Squadron, 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group died in an IED explosion Jan. 31; Corporal Kenneth O’Quinn, 25, of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron, Corporal Dany Fortin, 29, of the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, and Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, 38, of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment died March 3 in an IED explosion; Trooper Marc Diab, 22, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, 3rd Battalion the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group died in an IED explosion March 8; Trooper Corey Hayes, 22, and Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, both of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, 3rd Battalion the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, and Corporal Tyler Crooks, 24, and Master Corporal Scott Vernelli, 28, both of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group are killed in an IED explosion March 20; Corporal Karine Blais, 21, of the 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group died in an IED explosion April 13; Major Michelle Mendes, 30, Chief of Defence Intelligence died in a non-combat related incident April 23; Private Alexandre Péloquin, 20, of the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment died June 8 in an IED explosion; Corporal Martin Dubé, 35, from 5 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED blast June 14; Corporal Nicholas Bulger, 30, of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion July 3; Master Corporal Charles-Phillippe Michaud, 28, of the 2nd Batallion, Royal 22e Régiment, died in an IED explosion July 4; Corporal Martin Joannette, 25, of the 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment, and Master Corporal Patrice Audet, 38, of the 430e Escadron tactique d’hélicoptères both died in a helicopter crash July 6; Private Sébastien Courcy, 26, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, was killed in action July 16; Corporal Christian Bobbitt, 23, and Sapper Matthieu Allard, 21, both of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group died in an IED explosion Aug. 1; Major Yannick Pépin, 36, and Corporal Jean-François Drouin, 31, both of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group died in an IED blast Sept. 6; Private Patrick Lormand, 21, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment died in an IED explosion Sept. 13; Corporal Jonathan Couturier, 23, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment died in an IED explosion Sept. 17; Lieutenant Justin Boyes, 26, of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion Oct. 28; Sapper Steven Marshall, 24, of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED explosion Oct. 30; Lieutenant Andrew Nuttall, 30 of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died Dec. 23 in an IED explosion Dec. 23; Sergeant George Miok, 28, from the 41 Combat Engineer Regiment, Sergeant Kirk Taylor, 28, of the 84 Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, Corporal Zachery McCormack, 21, of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, 4th Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and Private Garrett Chidley, 21 of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were killed in an IED blast Dec. 30.
2010 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001.
Jan. 6 Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Canadian Forces will withdraw from Afghanistan between July and December 2011 and following that Canada’s activity in the country will be a strictly civilian mission. According to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen “whatever Canada decides, NATO and ISAF (NATO military forces) will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to finish our job.”
Jan. 25 National Post editorial board: Auditor-General Sheila Fraser returned from a five-day visit to Afghanistan Friday with an important message for Canadians, and some crucial questions.
Jan. 28 The Seventh International Conference on Afghanistan – a 60 nation summit organized by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – takes place in London, England, with the objective to reach a peace settlement with the Taliban. Suggestions include allowing the Taliban to control a portion of the government and paying Taliban insurgents and leaders to join the Afghan government.
Feb. 13 “Operation Moshtarak” directs the largest air assault in the Afghan War – involving Canadian, American, British and other coalition forces – against the last two regions of significant Taliban control in Helmand province. The ISAF drops leaflets and make broadcasts warning residents. The region is known as the world’s largest poppy grower and a major bomb-making and staging area for suicide bombers.
Feb. 14 Residents of Marjah in Helmand province who remained in their homes endure air assaults aimed at Taliban forces and 12 civilians die.
Feb. 18 The Taliban reportedly use women and children as human shields on the battlefield at Marjah. NATO confirms 15 civilian deaths since the launch of “Operation Mostarak” and Afghan rights groups report 19 deaths.
March 13-14 Suicide bombers orchestrate five attacks on locations including police headquarters and a prison, killing up to 35 civilians and injuring 47.
March 23 The Canadian Forces announce they will no longer report on soldiers wounded on the battlefield to prevent the Taliban from gaining access to this information. Brigadier General Dan Menard says the Taliban could use such information to improve its tactics, causing more Canadian casualties.
March 24 Captain Robert Semrau appears at the first day of his court martial to face charges for allegedly shooting two tracer bullets at close range into a wounded Taliban fighter in a farmer’s field in Afghanistan in October 2008. “Shooting an unarmed, wounded individual who poses no threat to him or to any of the troops under his command is shockingly unacceptable conduct,” prosecution counsel Captain Thomas Fitzgerald said in an opening statement. The captain pleaded not guilty. Capt. Semrau said he couldn’t live with himself if he had allowed another human being “to suffer like that,” military prosecutors say. The trial is expected to last until June. Defence Minister Peter MacKay announces that Major-General Peter Devlin will be promoted to lieutenant-general and take over as chief of land staff at National Defence Headquarters, replacing Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie.
March 25 A press report, citing unnamed sources, says Canada will be asked to keep as many as 600 soldiers in Afghanistan in a training capacity but Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon tells the House of Commons that even if the U.S. and NATO ask for a continued Canadian presence, “In 2011 we’re out.”
March 29 The federal government of Canada reiterates its plan to pull out all 2,800 soldiers currently stationed in Kandahar by 2011. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in Ottawa, “We would obviously like to see some form of support continue because the Canadian Forces have a great reputation. They work really well with our American troops and the other members of our coalition.”
April 8 On a visit to Afghanistan, Mr. MacKay hints that Canada may not leave Afghanistan altogether in 2011. “There are other ways that we will continue to contribute. Training is obviously one of those options, and I suspect there will be further discussion about what the mission will look like post-2011.”
April 13 Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin tells a public hearing by the Military Police Complaints Commission that Canadian forces were “blocking” the International Committee of the Red Cross from checking detainees transferred to Afghan authorities when he arrived in Afghanistan in 2006. Provost marshals and military police have been accused of aiding and abetting the torture of detainees transferred to Afghan custody.
April 27 The Speaker of the House of Commons rules against the federal government, upholding the opposition’s right to view uncensored documents about how Canadian Forces dealt with detainee transfers, and how the prisoners were treated. After five months of opposition requests the Speaker gives the two sides two weeks to come to a compromise.
May 14 MPs announce they have reached a deal that will reveal 20,000 to 40,000 pages of documents about Canada’s handling of Afghan detainees, staving off an election.
May 29 Brigadier-General Daniel Menard is fired from his position as head of the Canadian Forces following allegations of sexual misconduct, relating to an alleged affair. He is the first Canadian general officer to be dismissed from the battlefield since the Second World War. Brigadier-General Jon Vance – who left the post six months ago – will take over until the end of September.
June 2 Taliban suicide bombers attack a meeting of 1,600 Afghans and their president who were discussing ways to end the war.
June 13 Afghan President Hamid Karzai promises better governance and development to a group of several hundred elders in Kandahar, the city that launched the Taliban. “Right now, the life of Kandahar is a very bad life,” he said at a conference hall in the city. “Step by step, we can go forward.”
July A U.S government audit concludes that many “top-rated” Afghan National Army units had been “overstated” by NATO commanders. Western nations have said they will only withdraw troops when the Afghans can provide security for themselves and NATO has set a target for an Afghan army with 171,000 members by 2014, a significant increase from the current 119,000 soldiers. It is revealed that two of 17 Afghan National Army personnel who have gone AWOL in the past eight years while receiving English training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas have attained permanent resident status in Canada and six are awaiting a decision on refugee claims.
July 15 Canada transfers responsibility for the war in Kandahar city to the U.S. army’s 82nd Airborne Division after holding the Taliban at bay for more than four years. “This is a tactical footprint change,” Brig.-Gen. Vance said. “The military brawn is being concentrated.”
July 20 At an international conference in Kabul, foreign leaders agree that Afghan National Security Forces “should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.”
Aug. 4 An Ontario court denies the extradition of Abdullah Khadr to the United States on terrorism charges. The U.S. alleges Mr. Khadr, Omar Khadr’s brother, admitted to procuring weapons for al-Qaeda and taking part in an assassination plot against the prime minister of Pakistan, but Mr. Khadr says he made those confessions while detained and tortured in Pakistan in 2005.
August Mr. Karzai blindsides the international community when he announces that all private security companies in the country must disband within four months.
Aug. 12 Omar Khadr’s trial begins. The 23-year-old faces multiple charges including the murder of Special Forces Sergeant First Class Chris Speer who died in a grenade attack when the accused was 15 years old.
Aug. 21 National Post in Afghanistan: ‘My mission,” says Pete Reintjes, a sunburned, sweat-stained captain, “is to hold Nakhonay.” It’s a dangerous, complicated task, and one suddenly crucial to Canada’s shrinking combat assignment in Afghanistan as it comes nearer to an end.
Aug. 27 National Post in Afghanistan: Worried villagers are packing up their belongings and fleeing unstable districts around Kandahar city as Canadian, U.S. and Afghan forces intensify a long-planned campaign against insurgents in the area, local sources have told the National Post.
Sept. 4 National Post in Afghanistan: After four years of effort and heavy sacrifices, Canada’s military is still confounded by the Panjwaii district, the seat of Taliban power and home to a tiny, unhappy populace.
Sept. 18 Afghan officials declare the parliamentary election a success, but the UN says up to 4,000 complaints will have to be heard.
Oct. 8 National Post in Afghanistan: The war that Canadian soldiers are helping wage in Afghanistan is not being lost. Having spent nearly six months in the country since 2006, most of that time embedded with our troops, I’ve just come home again, convinced of it.
Oct. 24 Omar Khadr pleads guilty to five charges, including murder in a deal with the Pentagon that will limit his sentence and allow him apply to be transferred to Canadian custody after one year.
Oct. 29 Mr. MacKay says he is “outraged” at how the government treated the family of a Canadian soldier who committed suicide in 2008, after suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Fynes family said the Canadian Forces named the wrong executor of the estate, withheld their son’s suicide note and failed to provide help to him despite being aware that he was suffering from PTSD. In a letter dated Sept. 21, the family was ordered to stop phoning the Ottawa offices of the military’s pension branch.
Oct. 30 Bill Harris, the top U.S. diplomat in southern Afghanistan, believes “people will write dissertations” one day about a Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team he describes as “wildly successful.” “We honestly could not have grown as fast or as easily and come up to the level of effectiveness we currently perform at [if it had been] with any other country than Canada,” Mr. Harris said.
Oct. 31 Omar Khadr is handed a symbolic 40-year sentence by a U.S. military jury, but could return to Canada in little over a year in a transfer that the Harper government has agreed to “favourably consider.”
Nov. 9 National Post editorial board: Of course Canada should remain in Afghanistan past next July’s planned departure. Our role beyond the summer can and should be debated: Do we remain in a combat mission or downscale to purely a training function with the Afghan Nation Army and police — or both?
Nov. 11 Mr. Harper says Canada will deploy military trainers to Afghanistan for three more years because this country wants to ensure the “sacrifices” made by Canadian soldiers in the past decade are honoured. “We do want to make sure that as we leave [Afghanistan], what we leave behind is a situation that will ensure that the sacrifices that Canadians have made … are appropriately honoured,” he said. He confirmed the training would occur from 2011 to 2014.
Nov. 15 National Post editorial board: At the Halifax International Security Forum, which took place earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham made waves by enthusiastically ticking off all the Iranian assets that the United States should target if Washington decides to use military force against Tehran.
Nov. 17 Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda announces that Canada’s assistance to Afghanistan will equal $100-million per year for the next three years. NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar says the government reportedly spent $205-million last year alone. “Up until a week ago, we were withdrawing our troops. Now troops are remaining, they’re massively cutting aid to help Afghans, and putting money into training troops,” he said. “It’s outrageous.”
Fallen soldiers: Sergeant John Faught, 44, of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an improvised explosive device blast Jan. 16; Captain Frank Paul, 53, of the 28 Field Ambulance died of natural causes while on leave from Afghanistan Feb. 10; Corporal Joshua Baker, 24, of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment 4th Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died Feb. 12 in a training accident in Kandahar; Corporal Darren Fitzpatrik, 21 of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion March 20; Private Tyler Todd, 26, of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion April 11; Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake, 37, of the Fleet Diving Unit died in an IED blast May 3; Private Kevin McKay, 24, of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry died in an IED explosion May 13; Colonel Geoff Parker, 42, from the Land Forces Central Area Headquarters was killed by a suicide bomber May 18; Trooper Larry Rudd, 26, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons died in an IED explosion May 24; Sergeant Martin Goudreault, 35, of the 1 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED explosion June 6; Sergeant James MacNeil, 28 of the 2 Combat Engineer Regiment died in an IED blast June 21; Private Andrew Miller, 21 from 2 Field Ambulance, and Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, 34, of the 1 Canadian Field Hospital were killed in an IED blast June 26; Sapper Brian Collier, 24, of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, died in an IED explosion July 20; Corporal Brian Pinksen, 20, of the 2nd Battalion , Royal Newfoundland Regiment died in an IED blast Aug. 30; Corporal Steve Martin, 24, of the 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment died in IED explosion Dec. 18.
2011 – Borrowed from the National Post
The Post takes a comprehensive year-by-year look at Canada’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001.
Jan. 3 The results of an analysis of Question Period transcripts revealed that the opposition questioned the government about Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and government ethics more than any other subjects in 2010.
Jan. 9 Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Moritsugu, the leader of the mission transition and liaison team for the Canadian Forces, says pulling Canada’s almost 3,000 soldiers out of Afghanistan this year will cost “lots of hundred of millions of dollars.” A more precise price tag is not available for Canada’s largest military pullout since the Korean conflict in 1950. “It’s like moving a very large village or small town, lock, stock and barrel,” said Lt.-Col. Moritsugu. “We have to clean, repair and pack everything up and move it halfway around the world.”
Feb. 10 Omar Khadr signs a prisoner transfer application, bringing him one step closer to returning to Canada. The 24-year-old, who was arrested when he was 15, admitted to five war crimes, including murder in the death of a U.S. serviceman, as part of a plea deal that guaranteed he would spend a maximum one more year in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Feb. 13 Two senior Canadian generals will oversee NATO’s multi-billion dollar training programmes tasked with ensuring that Afghan security forces are ready to assume control from alliance forces by the end of 2014.
Feb. 12 A 28-year-old Taliban field commander who says he fought numerous battles against Canadian troops, surrenders to Afghan authorities, along with 30 of his men. “Among the Taliban, there are commanders now who are tired and want to join the peace process,” said Haji Toorjan after he turned over his weapons at a ceremony in Kandahar city. “The government should reach them out and meet their demands, which are not high: protection, shelter and jobs.” He said the Taliban paid its fighters nothing, but provided food, weapons and shelter across the border in Pakistan.
Feb. 27 The Foreign Affairs Department says the young Canadian traveller, Colin Rutherford, disappeared while visiting Afghanistan to learn Pashto, the native tongue of the Taliban. Insurgents say they have captured a Canadian “secret agent” by the same name.
March 6 Afghanistan begins to open up its mining industry for foreign investment to allow the country to capitalize on its vast resource wealth. The government offers guaranteed security and a favourable tax regime at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference. A New York Times report released last June stated that the U.S. had identified nearly US$1-trillion worth of minerals in the country. “[Mining] is a path to economic sovereignty for the Afghan people,” said Afghan Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani.
March 15 The RCMP issues arrest warrants for two former University of Manitoba students, Ferid Imam, 30, and Maiwand Yar, 27, who left Canada four years ago to allegedly attend terrorist training in Pakistan. The same day, the U.S. unseals an indictment charging Mr. Imam with playing a role in a failed al-Qaeda plot to bomb New York subways in 2009. The pair never used the return portion of their flight tickets.
March 22 Afghan President Hamid Karzai announces the first seven areas where Afghan forces will assume primary responsibility for security, beginning in July. It is the initial phase of a transfer-of-power strategy that will see NATO troops move to a support role before allowing Afghan forces to assume complete control of the country by 2014. “The Afghan nation doesn’t want the defence of this country to be in the hands of others any more,” said Mr. Karzai.
April 12 The Ottawa Citizen reports that a portion of the estimated 950 Canadian soldiers committed to the mission to train Afghan police and the army will operate out of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The Harper government had previously announced the training mission would not involve combat and would be centred on the capital city of Kabul. Mazar-i-Sharif was the site of an April 1 attack, in response to a U.S. pastor burning the Koran in Florida, that left seven United Nations staff and five Afghans dead.
April 25 Sixty-five of the 488 prisoners detained at Sarpoza jail in Kandahar escape through a tunnel dug by the Taliban. The Taliban claim as many as 541 escaped. Afghan authorities and foreign troops launch a manhunt and question security at the prison.
National Post in Afghanistan: Bad news reached us Monday morning in Panjwaii district, where Richard Johnson and I continue to move about with Canadian troops. In Kandahar city, we learned, 476 inmates escaped from the Afghan-run Sarpoza prison, where Taliban insurgents and others are held. Afghan reporters in the city have filed stories quoting a Taliban source claiming responsibility for the prison break.
May 1 U.S. President Barack Obama announces that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was killed in an American-led operation in a mansion outside Islamabad, Pakistan. “The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” said former U.S. President George W. Bush.
National Post in Afghanistan: “It’s a great day, Bin Laden being dead and all,” said an American civilian Monday morning; she was standing in line at a coffee joint on the famous boardwalk at Kandahar Air Field.
May 2 Prime Minister Stephen Harper wins his first majority Conservative government in the 41st Canadian general election.
National Post in Afghanistan: Taliban insurgents launched a string of coordinated suicide and IED attacks on Kandahar city Saturday, purportedly in retaliation to the U.S. commando raid almost seven days ago that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
May 8 National Post in Afghanistan: Colin Rutherford, a 26-year-old Canadian civilian taken hostage in October by “Mujahideen” kidnappers in Ghazni province, central Afghanistan, appears healthy, rational and calm while speaking in a brief video released Sunday on a pro-jihadist website.
May 13 Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin says repairing and repatriating the large quantities of gear at the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan is a complex undertaking that will likely impede Canada’s ability to deploy combat forces overseas until November 2012.
May 30 Mr. Harper visits Canadian troops in Kandahar to thank them for their contribution to the Afghan war that has already lasted longer than the combined number of years that Canadians fought in the First and Second World Wars. “Let no one forget it! My friends, you have done exceptionally well. On behalf of all Canadians, I salute you.”
June 8 Four hundred Canadian soldiers gather at a sunset memorial in Masum Gar to commemorate the 156 troops who died during the Afghan mission.
Fallen soldiers: Corporal Yannick Scherrer, 24, of the 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment died in an improvised explosive device blast March 27; Bombardier Karl Manning, 31, of the 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada died in a non-combat related incident May 27.
2012 – Borrowed from the National Post http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/02/01/over-2000-canadians-were-wounded-in-afghan-mission/
Over 2,000 Canadians were wounded in Afghan mission: report
Postmedia News Feb 1, 2012 – 8:09 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 1, 2012 8:10 PM ET
By Lee Berthiaume
OTTAWA • Defence department figures released Wednesday put the final, official tally on the number of Canadian soldiers wounded during the 10-year Afghanistan combat mission at more than 2,000.
Twenty soldiers were wounded in action in 2011, the fewest since Canada took over responsibility of Kandahar in 2005. A further 168 received “non-battle injuries.”
That brings the total number of Canadian soldiers wounded in action during the mission (April 2002 to December 2011) at 635; another 1,412 suffered non-battle injuries.
Four Canadian soldiers were killed in 2011, bringing the total to 158.
History will show 2009 was the bloodiest year. Canadian soldiers suffered roadside and suicide bomb attacks while patrolling Kandahar, came under rocket and mortar attack in their encampments, and engaged in sporadic firefights with an elusive foe.
In that year alone, 454 Canadians were wounded and 32 were killed.
The Defence department classifies injuries and deaths in action as those suffered as a direct result of combat, including explosives, mines, rocket attacks and direct fire, as well as friendly fire incidents.
Non-battle injuries include traffic accidents, the accidental discharge of a weapon and other accidental injuries unrelated to combat.
The Defence figures do not include the thousands of Canadian soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress and other psychological damage.
A recent Defence department study predicted up to 13.2% of the 40,000 Canadians who served in Afghanistan could be suffering such injuries. Veterans Affairs Canada said 6,732 Afghan vets were receiving disability benefits as of Oct. 1, 2011.
While the end of the winding-down of the combat mission in Kandahar over the past two years saw the number of soldiers killed and wounded decline significantly, the presence of 950 Canadian military trainers in Kabul and two other sites in central Afghanistan until 2014 means the threat of injury and death has not disappeared.
Canadian soldiers helped fend off an insurgent attack on a NATO compound in Kabul in September, while Master Corporal Byron Greff was killed when a suicide bomber slammed a car into a NATO bus in October.