KABUL, Afghanistan – Canada ended military operations in Afghanistan on Wednesday, ending a 12-year mission as the international community winds down its role in the country ahead of an end-of-year deadline for foreign combat operations to end.
The Canadians formally ended their combat role in southern Afghanistan in July 2011 but maintained a small training operation in Kabul.
"Canada played a critical role in securing Kandahar Province and had a strategic impact across the country with their contribution to the NATO training mission," the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said during a flag-lowering ceremony at the headquarters for international forces in Kabul.
At its peak Canada was the sixth largest troop-contributing nation, behind the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy. It deployed more than 40,000 service members to Afghanistan since the mission began in 2001. Like Americans and Europeans, Canadians have grown weary of the war.
According to the Canadian government, 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors were killed in Afghanistan.
A statement by the NATO-led international Security Assistance Force said Canada also was instrumental in developing a network of roads as well as improving economic conditions and governance in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban and one of the hardest areas to tame in Afghanistan.
Canada will continue to play a role in Afghanistan with the provision of $330 million to help sustain the Afghan security forces, it said.