Over nearly five years of combat in Kandahar province, the Canadian Forces mission to defeat the insurgent Taliban has been called many things—‘the unexpected war,’ ‘the difficult war,’ ‘mission impossible’—but in the end it will be up to the historians, and history itself, to decide what it all meant. In the meantime, certain things are known: The counter-insurgency campaign waged in Kandahar province from 2006-2011 was the Canadian military’s first period of sustained combat in more than 50 years, since the Korean war. If nothing else, it was a test of military, political and democratic resolve. The effort to combat islamic militancy and international terrorism, borne out of the attacks of September 11, 2001, drew Canada and its military into some harrowing situations. The cost was high. What follows is a timeline of the mission’s Milestones.
Prime Minister Paul Martin announces the Canadian Forces will be moving south from Kabul to Kandahar to take up a new combat mission.
The CF suffers what are possibly their first casualties in Kandahar, when a suicide bomber strikes a convoy, wounding three.
The end of Operation Athena in Kabul.
Diplomat Glyn Berry is killed and several CF members wounded by a suicide bomber in Kandahar City.
Stephen Harper becomes prime minister.
The CF uses artillery in battle for the first time since the Korean War.
CF begins operations in Panjwaii district.
First mass-KIA event. An IED kills Bombardier Myles Mansell, Corporal Matthew Dinning, Corporal Randy Payne and Lieutenant William Turner.
Operation Bravo Corridor is the first CF attempt to retake the Pashmul region and assert control over Panjwaii-Zhari districts.
Operation Medusa attempts to knock insurgents out of Panjwaii-Zhari.
CF begins construction of Route Summit, a key road-building project intended to raise the standard of living in Panjwaii-Zhari.
The OMLT program kicks into gear, pairing Canadian mentors with Afghan Army units.
The Taliban IED campaign continues to devastate, killing six in a single blast. Capt. Johnathan Dawe, Cpl. Cole Bartsch, Private Lane Watkins, Master Corporal Colin Bason, Cpl. Jordan Anderson and Capt. Jefferson Francis.
Peter MacKay replaces Gordon O’Connor as defence minister.
The Manley Report is released. The paper recommends Canada remain in Kandahar only if helicopters and NATO reinforcements are deployed.
Taliban spring up to 400 comrades from Saraposa prison in Kandahar City.
M.Cpl. Erin Doyle is killed in the battle to secure western Panjwaii. Shortly after, the CF would largely cede the area to the enemy.
A new strategic approach begins: Operation Kalay (Village). CF troops begin moving into villages in Dand and Panjwaii districts.
U.S. General Stanley McCrystal takes command of overall effort. Issues directives to win the war through protecting civilians.
Stephen Harper announces the Kandahar mission ends in 2011.
The Canadian area of operations has shrunk to central and eastern Panjwaii district, plus part of Dand district. U.S. troops patrol the province.
Combat continues to rage in Panjwaii, including a gun battle on this day in the main city of Bazaar-e-Panjwaii, within site of Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar.
As the combat mission winds down, Canada finally completes a gravel road through western Panjwaii.
The combat mission ends and Canada begins a new training mission in the north.
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