Canadian soldiers leave for final mission in Afghanistan
Published Monday, June 17, 2013 10:54PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 18, 2013 8:46AM EDT
Nine-hundred Canadian soldiers are leaving for Afghanistan as part of Operation Attention, the last Canadian Forces mission in the country, in which they’ll train Afghan soldiers and police officers.
The first wave of that group -- about 50 soldiers from CFB Shilo in Manitoba and 50 soldiers from CFB Edmonton -- left Canada Monday morning for the war-torn country where NATO forces are poised to leave next year.
So far, the mission to train Afghan security forces has received mixed success, according to some military analysts.
“There’s no question the Afghan army is much larger now than it was four or five years ago. It is better equipped,” David Bercuson, a professor of military history at the University of Calgary, told CTV News.
“The legacy of this will only be determined in the future. It will depend on what happens in Afghanistan after we leave.”
Kabul, the capital city, is considered relatively safe compared to Kandahar to the southwest, where Canadian troops had been stationed since 2001 for their combat mission.
“Realistically, the way I look at it is, I’m going over there to do what I can and then hopefully leave it in a better place,” Cpt. Talon Desjardins said.
Many soldiers are aware of the dangers they face.
Just last week, seven Taliban fighters launched an assault on NATO’s operational headquarters at the military section of Kabul’s international airport. The attack failed and the militant fighters were killed, but the rare assault shows that despite a growing security blanket around the capital, the insurgency is far from over.
In addition to the airport attack, six militants wearing suicide bomb vests attempted to storm a provincial court building last Monday in the southern province of Zabul.
According to the Interior Ministry, the Zabul attack resulted in 18 people being wounded, including three police officers.
With files from CTV’s Janet Dirks