Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are marking more than a decade of service in Afghanistan.

In 2001, the Government of Canada began a defining chapter in Canadian history by joining international efforts to build an Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists, is better governed, more peaceful, and more secure.

Afghanistan Memorial Vigil

The Memorial Vigil consists of the original memorial plaques from the Kandahar Airfield Cenotaph. The series of plaques are dedicated to the lives lost during the pursuit of peace and security in Afghanistan – including those of Canadian Armed Forces members, a Canadian diplomat, a Canadian civilian contractor, a Canadian journalist, and U.S. Armed Forces members who were under Canadian command.

Canada's military commitmentin Afghanistan

More than 39,000 Canadian Armed Forces members have served in an Afghanistan theatre of operations or in support of the mission from other locations around the world. The Canadian Armed Forces:

  • searched for terrorists in Afghanistan’s mountains and caves alongside U.S. forces (2002);
  • increased security around the capital city of Kabul while ensuring the safety of its residents (2003-2005);
  • successfully fought extremist insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar to improve the security of the region (2005-2011); and
  • formed part of a Canadian “whole of government” team that supported development and governance projects in Kandahar, to improve the life of Afghans (2005-2011).

While ramping up counter-insurgency operations, Canadian Armed Forces members also:

  • trained and mentored the Afghan National Security Forces (2005-2014);
  • lived among the Afghan people to provide security so that development work could begin (2006-2008); and
  • were recognized by NATO for their leadership role at the Kandahar Airfield Medical unit in establishing, supporting, and commanding the NATO Multinational Role 3 Medical Unit, the first ever NATO multinational field hospital involved in combat operations (2006-2011).

As of 2008, Canadian troops began to focus principally on providing training and professional development support to the Afghan National Army, Afghan Air Force and Afghan National Police.

Working alongside many nations and international organizations, such as the United Nations, and as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, the Canadian Armed Forces have demonstrated tremendous global leadership through its mission in Afghanistan. Canadian Armed Forces personnel held key leadership positions at all levels of ISAF and NATO. From 2009 to 2011, U.S. fighting battalions were placed under Canadian command, marking the first time the U.S. troops were placed under a foreign combat command.

Accomplishments in Afghanistan

The security provided by the Canadian Armed Forces greatly facilitated the work of other departments and agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; Public Safety Canada; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Canadian civilian police departments; Correctional Service of Canada; and the Canada Border Services Agency. In partnership with the Afghan Government, the Afghan people, and other nations, Canada helped:

  • create a better trained, better educated and more professional Afghan National Security Forces;
  • improve access to education – school attendance is up nearly eight-fold since 2001, with a nearly 40% increase in attendance by Afghan girls;
  • improve healthcare – maternal mortality has decreased by about two-thirds over the last ten years;
  • strengthen the rule of law and human rights for Afghans, including for women and children;
  • improve infrastructure, roads and irrigation systems; and
  • provide skill development and job creation, contributing to improved economic growth.

The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces would like to thank the military families, friends and all Canadians who have shown their support for Canada’s troops and its mission in Afghanistan.

For more information on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, please visit:

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