March 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the withdrawal of Canadian Armed Forces from Afghanistan and Veterans Affairs Canada are marking the event by releasing learning resources for school students.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, more than 40,000 troops served in the Afghanistan theatre of operations between 2001 and 2014.
A total of 158 military personnel lost their lives in a mission that saw fierce combat and a brutal evolution of guerrilla warfare, utilizing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Canadian military also conducted humanitarian and nation-building efforts, with their allies including the U.S. and Great Britain.
Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan came to a close five years ago and Veterans Affairs Canada has provided a collection of historical information, photos, veteran video interviews and lesson plans for all ages.
“Red Fridays stands out to me,” said Don Fisher, sergeant-at-arms of Army Navy and Airforce Veterans in Sidney.
“We lost quite a lot of people in Afghanistan and it became a thing to wear red in support of the troops there. I still wear red every Friday and I know a couple of other fellows who do too.”
The deployment saw the largest combat offensive by Canadian troops in 50 years, Operation Medusa, where 1,000 troops fought to push the Taliban out of Punjwai district, suffering 12 casualties.
Women operated alongside men in the war, and Capt. Nichola Goddard tragically became the first female Canadian Armed Forces member to die in combat, on May 17, 2006.
The Canadian military has fought in a number of conflicts since the First World War, including major roles in the Second World War, Korea and the first Gulf War. They have also completed NATO and UN peace-keeping commitments and have most recently been active in fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“Our forces are doing a very good job to maintain peace and protect our freedom around the world. They should be remembered,” said Fisher.
To see the video interviews, access learning resources and learn about the conflict visit veterans.gc.ca.