In October 2001, the United States launched attacks against the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Following the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in New York on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States. With a declaration of War on Terror, American intelligence identified Osama bin Laden, a Saudi exile believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, as the prime suspect in the attack.
On September 12th, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the attacks and pledging support to root out terrorism in Afghanistan. On September 13th, for the first time in history, NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack on a NATO nation launched from outside that nation shall be interpreted as an attack on all NATO nations.
Fallen Soldiers of Afghanistan
The Afghanistan tribute is of special and enduring significance for visitors to the Mural and indeed to all Canadians. Sponsored by General Walter Natynczyk (Retd), this panel honours the fallen soldiers and service personnel who paid the supreme sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2011.
When a soldier's name has been written in stone, he ceases to exist on the earth except in the memories of those who knew him... his friends, his family, and his community. Let us therefore strive together to remember the fallen men and women of Afghanistan whose names have been written in stone forevermore.
Canadian Army Operations in Afghanistan: 2001 - 2014
Operation Apollo: Oct 2001 - July 2003
On October 7th, 2001 the United States military began their official invasion of Afghanistan, launching Operation Enduring Freedom and concentrated attacks against the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. On October 8th, Canada, in accordance with its’ commitment to NATO, established Operation Apollo, committing Canadian sea, air, and land forces to assist the United States' effort to root out Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
An American bombing campaign was followed twelve days later by the first wave of conventional ground forces to form a partnership with the Northern Alliance, an Afghan anti-Taliban coalition. Canadian Special Forces, Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) also deployed in the fall of 2001, fighting alongside US Navy SEALs in southern Afghanistan, targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda members.
The first Canadian Naval force to arrive in the Persian Gulf was the frigate HMCS Halifax on November 2nd, 2001. From that first deployment throughout Op Apollo, the Canadian Navy sent continuous rotations of ships to the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The main objective was to prevent the escape of Al Qaeda and Taliban members via ship. They also conducted regular drug interdiction operations, intercepting smuggling rings on the high seas. For a period of four years, the most demanding mission since the Second World War, our frigates, destroyers, and replenishment vessels conducted extensive patrols throughout Middle Eastern waters.
Canada deployed an Infantry Battle Group to Afghanistan in January 2002, our first combat troops sent into a theatre of war in fifty years. The 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group included a reconnaissance squadron from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)), and combat service support elements from 1 Service Battalion. Attached to the American 3rd Brigade, 101st ABN Division, Task Force RAKKASAN, Canadian troops engaged in responsibilities ranging from airfield security to combat.
In March 2002, American and other NATO forces launched Operation Anaconda with the goal of destroying any remaining al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shah-i-Valley and Arma Mountains of Afghanistan.
During this operation, Canadian snipers broke, and re-broke, the kill record for a long distance sniper kill set in the Vietnam War by a U.S. Marine. Corporal Rob Furlong, held the record in 2002 when he shot an Afghan insurgent at a distance of 2,430 meters. Operation Anaconda was also the first time since the Korean War that Canadian soldiers relieved American soldiers in combat.
Canadian operations supporting Op Anaconda include Op Harpoon and Op Torii where our Canadian troops' extensive training was put to test in a theatre of war for the first time in a generation. Although the Taliban had already retreated when our soldiers were dropped by American Chinook helicopters onto the prominent defensive high feature called the Whaleback, the mission was highly successful in demonstrating their level of fitness and capabilities.
Miraculously, in spite of two weeks of harrowing challenges, American and Canadian Forces returned from Op Anaconda without a casualty. The Taliban suffered heavy casualties and evacuated the region.
On April 17th, 2002 four Canadian soldiers from 3PPCLI were killed, and 8 wounded, when a U.S fighter pilot dropped a 500 lb laser-guided bomb onto their training position at Tarnak Farms, in spite of having been denied permission to do so. The friendly fire incident shocked the nation and resulted in Canada’s first deaths in a combat zone since the Korean War.
During that first rotation of NATO troops in late 2001 and early 2002, the Taliban were largely defeated, although many of their members still remained at large. They regrouped in western Pakistan and began to unleash an insurgent-style offensive against Coalition forces in late 2002. Four (4) Canadians were killed during Op APOLLO
Operation Athena Phase I: Aug 2003 - July 2005
In July 2003, Canadian Forces moved northward to the city of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where they commanded the newly formed International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in a peace-support mission named Operation Athena. A task force of 19,000 Canadian troops deployed to assist with security and mentorship to help Afghans develop a system of good governance. ISAF forces also helped civilians improve infrastructure by building schools, digging wells and repairing buildings.
In March 2004, Canada committed $250 million in aid to Afghanistan, and $5 million to support the Afghan election. ISAF troops provided security while the fledgling Afghan government developed its' constitution and held its first national election since the fall of the Taliban. In spite of widespread threats and isolated outbreaks of violence, 80 percent of eligible voters turned out on election day, October 9th, 2004. Hamid Karzai was inaugurated President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on December 9th, 2004. By December 2005, Op Athena Phase I was complete and the stated aim of assisting Afghans with rebuilding their democratic process had been accomplished. Four (4) Canadians were killed during Op ATHENA Phase I
Operation Athena Phase II: Aug 2005 - Dec 2011
In spring 2005, ISAF extended its operations to bring aid to Afghans beyond Kabul and began to rebuild its shattered villages and outlying communities. Canadian Forces accepted the assignment to move back to the volatile Kandahar Province and take over Regional Command South from American Forces. Entrusted as lead nation for this operation, Canada received many international accolades for its results. In Kandahar, Brigadier General David Fraser led the transition from the US Operation Enduring Freedom to the NATO ISAF coalition. BGen Fraser was the first Canadian commander of NATO forces in history and the first Canadian general to command American troops in theatre since the Second World War.
In accordance with the Afghanistan Compact, signed on February 1st, 2006, the new mission objectives in Afghanistan would be a whole-of-government "3D" approach; Diplomacy, Development and Defence.
A new military task force, Joint Task Force Afghanistan, would provide security for the civilians of Kandahar Province and develop capabilities in their national security forces; the Afghan National Army, and the Afghan National Police. As well as military troops, the new Canadian mission included diplomats, development workers, law enforcement and corrections officers, and other civilians to provide expertise in the areas of governance, rule of law, human rights and economic development. The whole-of-government effort was directed by the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan in Ottawa to provide oversight and ensure continuity with all objectives.
By January 2006 full scale combat operations were required to protect civilians from the Taliban insurgency and to maintain a safe and secure environment to allow development and capacity-building work to continue. The people of Afghanistan, plagued by continual war, land mines and environmental degradation faced constant challenges. Canadian soldiers would soon bear the brunt of protecting them as they faced the longest running combat mission in Canada’s history. One hundred and fifty (150) Canadians were killed during Op ATHENA Phase II
Canada's Objectives during the Afghanistan War
During the Afghanistan War Canada developed several priorities to help the Afghan government and their people during the conflict.
- Humanitarian Assistance
- Provincial Reconstruction
- Supporting Democratic Development
- Training and Security
- Political Reconciliation
- Afghanistan-Pakistan Border
Canada's CADPAT Camouflage Uniform
Canadian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 (Canadian Special Forces deployed in October 2001) with new camouflage uniforms. The Temperate Woodland digital CADPAT (Canadian Disruptive Pattern) was designed by Canadian Forces and issued in 2001 to reduce detection by night vision devices. There was much talk in the Canadian media about the colour of the uniforms and it was considered a political embarrassment that our soldiers were sent into a desert war wearing green camouflage.
However, when our troops were sent into the mountain regions of Afghanistan on their first combat operation, Op Harpoon, the uniforms performed brilliantly as they blended into the alpine brush.
The CADPAT design was soon the envy of other coalition troops as scientific findings demonstrated its’ superiority over every other camouflage pattern in existence. When the US Marine Corps was looking for a distinctive new uniform, they concluded CADPAT would be the perfect fit.
The Canadian Government owns copyright on the pattern but willingly contributed research and resource information with the Marines under a bilateral military exchange agreement to help them develop their new pattern, MARPAT, a derivative of CADPAT, issued in 2004.
By 2005, the new Arid Region colour was developed for Canadian troops in Afghanistan as they performed primarily desert operations. The Temperate Woodland pattern remains the current standard issue for serving members of the Canadian Forces.
CADPAT was rated the best Tropical and Temperate Camouflage by NATO soldiers in a recent scientific study which demonstrated a 40 percent decrease in detection from 200 meters vs the old Olive Drab.
General Walter J. Natynczyk, Chief of Defence Staff 2008-2012
General Walt Natynczyk is originally from Winnipeg and joined the Canadian Forces in 1975 after spending 5 years as an Air Cadet. He has served in numerous regimental command positions at all levels from tank troop leader up to commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
General Natynczyk's operational experience consists of 4 years on NATO duty in Germany; six months of UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus (1984); a one-year-long mission with the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia as Sector South-West Chief of Operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994) with British forces, then as the Chief of Land Operations, UNPROFOR HQ in Zagreb, Croatia.
He commanded the Royal Canadian Dragoons in domestic operations during the Winnipeg floods of 1997 as well as in the Ottawa region during the 1998 Ice Storm, and he served as the Canadian Contingent Commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1998.
He became the third Canadian to serve as Deputy Commanding General, III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas and deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq in 2004 serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps.
Upon his return to Canada, he assumed command of the Land Force Doctrine and Training System. He was subsequently appointed Chief of Transformation where he was responsible for implementation of the force restructuring and the enabling processes and policies.
He has fulfilled various staff appointments including serving as Squadron Commander at the Royal Military College (Kingston, Ontario), on the Army Headquarters staff (St. Hubert, Quebec), and in Ottawa as Assistant Director to the National Defence Headquarters Secretariat, J3 Plans and Operations during the period of CF deployments to Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor and Ethiopia-Eritrea, and most recently as the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.
General Natynczyk was promoted to his present rank on 2 July 2008, when he assumed his duties as Chief of Defence Staff. General Natynczyk retired in October 2012, after four years of service. He was succeeded by Gen. Tom Lawson who takes over as the new Chief of Defence Staff.