Canada’s remarkable service in Afghanistan has made true gains for women, children and for all citizens of that troubled land, although the strides forward have sometimes come at a painful cost.
The 152 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Canada and in defence of human rights have improved Afghans’ prospects for a brighter future, while serving to protect the national security of Canada.
Our soldiers’ leadership as part of this UN-mandated, NATO-led mission has made Canadians proud. It is important to build on our troops’ hard-won achievements to ensure they result in a lasting legacy for the people they fought to defend.
Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011, as planned. But our responsibility to preserve the progress we’ve made after a decade of service still remains.
Therefore, after 2011, Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan will switch to humanitarian aid, development and training, in a non-combat role.
When our current combat mission ends, Canada will deploy up to 950 military trainers and support staff at facilities centered in Kabul, and in a strictly non-combat role.
This new training role will continue until March 2014.
Canadian skill and expertise will be tapped to properly train Afghan security forces - in classrooms and inside bases - to enable them to provide security for their own people.
In parts of a land where young girls were once denied an education, new schools have opened and children now learn to read and write. The rule of law and human rights are being advanced. Humanitarian assistance is reaching people who desperately need it. Diplomacy is promoted as the better alternative to conflict. And the construction of public works is improving the lives of Afghan citizens everywhere.
Our ongoing involvement in a non-combat role to equip Afghanistan for the challenges still ahead will continue to build on the foundation laid at great cost by our soldiers.