Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, talks to
media as he is flanked by Chief of the Defence
Staff Walter Natynczyk, right.
On May 30, 2011 the Canadian troops and civilian representatives in Kandahar played host to a surprise visitor. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was accompanied by Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, senior military and government officials, and media as he toured the Canadian Area of Operations (AOR).
The visit could not have come at a better time, as the Canadian Forces (CF) were in the process of winding down their combat operations (OP ATHENA) and transitioning to their new training role (OP ATTENTION) as part of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A).
Due in large part to the efforts and accomplishments of the CF in their AOR, the Prime Minister was able to visit the Forward Operating Base at Sperwan Gar, which just last summer was a hot-bed of Taliban activity.
During his eleven-hour visit, the Prime Minister also visited Tarnak Farms in the Dand district, which was also made safe through the efforts of Canadian troops, and has since been promoted as a model where good governance and economic development have succeeded.
When the Prime Minister addressed the Canadian contingent, he also confirmed that up to 950 CF trainers, and their support personnel, and approximately 45 Canadian civilian police will be deployed to Afghanistan to take part in Operation ATTENTION, the Canadian component of the NTM-A.
“Well-trained, well-led and well-equipped Afghanistan Security Forces are an essential part of the Afghan government assuming full responsibility for national and provincial security and enabling governance and development,” said Prime Minister Harper. “Canadians have been an integral part of the training of Afghanistan Security Forces for five years and we intend to continue this important work.”
The next chapter of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan will be centred in Kabul and will focus on four key themes: investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through development programming in education and health; advancing security, the rule of law and human rights, including the aforementioned training component; promoting regional diplomacy; and, delivering humanitarian assistance.
This renewed engagement builds on Canada’s significant experience and investments in Afghanistan to date, supports Afghan-developed priorities, and sustains progress in key areas essential to Afghanistan’s future.
The Canadian training mission is already underway and is slated to run until March 2014.