|By Marketwired .||
|October 11, 2013 05:00 PM EDT||
OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 10/11/13 -- After deploying to Afghanistan this past summer, over 100 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel from 3rd Canadian Division were greeted by their families and friends in Edmonton and Winnipeg today, just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
"I am very proud of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. Our soldiers' contribution to restore and maintain peace and security in Afghanistan, and to train and mentor our Afghan National Security Forces partners, has been exceptional," said the Hon. Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence. "I know that next month, as we mark Remembrance Day, Canadians will be thinking of the selfless service that our men and women performed overseas."
This group is the first in a series of returning soldiers who participated in the final rotation of Operation Attention; Canada's military contribution to the NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A). Over the next few months the remaining CAF personnel will be returning home with the last group slated to redeploy back to Canada in March 2014, marking the official end of the CAF' operations in Afghanistan.
"Canadian training and mentoring efforts in Afghanistan have helped to develop capable, professional and sustainable Afghan National Security Forces," said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff. "Our members can leave Afghanistan confident that they made a difference. They helped Afghans establish a strong foundation, from which they can build a secure future. This is a legacy that our members and Canadians can be proud of."
Operation Attention follows Operation Athena (2003-2011) and Operation Apollo (2001-2003) as the third major CAF mission contributing to multinational operations in southwest Asia. Canada's participation in the NTM-A continues to deliver training and professional development to the Afghan National Security Forces since the end of combat operations in Southern Afghanistan in 2011.
From our first deployment in Afghanistan in 2001 to present day, nearly 40,000 soldiers served for more than 30 days in-country, making our mission in Afghanistan Canada's largest military deployment since the Second World War - more than in Korea in the 1950s or the Balkans in the 1990s.
Canada is the second largest contributor to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan after the United States, with up to 950 Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part of Operation Attention, working in a whole-of-government capacity alongside 38 partner nations.
The Canadian Armed Forces has commenced a gradual draw-down of its personnel, beginning with the final rotation now in Afghanistan. The number of personnel will be gradually reduced, with all CAF personnel and equipment scheduled to be out of Afghanistan by March 2014. By the end of October, approximately 650 CAF personnel will remain in support to Operation Attention.
Note to Editors: 3rd Canadian Division soldiers were the first to deploy to Afghanistan in 2002 under Operation Apollo.
For more information on Operation Attention
For more information on 3rd Canadian Division
For imagery on Operation Attention