Canada formally ended its involvement with NATO’s military mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday, concluding a 12-year-long operation that killed 162 Canadian troops, injured thousands, and cost Canada tens of billions in military-related spending.
“This country was put to the test,” retired Col. Pat Stogran, a former commander in Afghanistan, told Canada’s CTV News. “The jury is still out right now.” Handout / Reuters
Canada marked the event in a ceremony and removed the Canadian flag from NATO’s headquarters in Kabul. About 100 Canadian troops still remain in Afghanistan, and are set to leave in the next few days. Around 40,000 troops served in total.
“Your strength has protected the weak; your bravery has brought hope to hopeless; and the helping hand you have extended to the Afghan people has given them faith that a better future is within their grasp,” Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons told soldiers, CCTV News reported. Handout / Reuters
From 2001-2013, Canada spent $1.65 billion on reconstruction and development projects in Afghanistan that targeted issues like women’s rights and rural housing.
Canadian troops during an operation in Kandahar Province, Oct. 15, 2010. Handout / Reuters
Canadian troops engaged in combat largely in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. They joined U.S and UK troops in battles in Sangin, a Taliban stronghold. In 2010, they faced fierce fighting in Panjwayi, Kandahar, pictured here, as part of Operation Medusa.
Some Canadian soldiers also faced allegations of torture in the South. Bob Strong / Reuters
Of the 162 Canadians that died, 158 were soldiers, one was a diplomat, another a journalist, and two civilian contractors. The UN reported that 2,959 Afghan civilians died and 5,656 were injured in 2013 alone.
Handout / Reuters