A planned and overwhelming attack ofSeptember 11, 2001, known as 9/11, had become theincident leading up to Canada’s longest battle so far in Canadian history; theAfghanistan war.Early that day, suicide attacks were carried out shortly after a group ofterrorists hijackedfour passenger planes. Everyone died on board, close to 3,000 people werekilled on ground,and many others were left injured.
The attack was claimed by Al Qaeda, anIslamist terrororganization led by Osama bin Laden. Angered by this, President George W. Bush,leaderof the U.S. at the time, said that they must hand bin Laden over to pay forthis crime anddisband. When Al Qaeda didn’t agree, the President then initiated a campaign withits alliesto take down the terrorists once and for all.
An extensive fourteen-year periodof militaryinvasion, naval contribution and fighting to restore peaceful conditions inKabul and Kandahar,makes up Canada’s effort during the War in Afghanistan. Canada’s role in this military missionbegins in secrecy amongst its first learned soldiers, placedin Afghanistan by December 19, 2001, for the start of Operation Apollo. Aboutforty ofthe soldiers had been on ground and in or surrounding the province of Kandahar.
Later the invasionof 2001 was done by the United States, British and other international forces. ThePrincess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, of approximately 1,200 troopsfollowedthemin this battle group, by February 2002. These Canadians had come south ofKandahar, searchingfor insurgents in the area, as part of the United States Army task force. Inthe capitalcity of Kabul, the Taliban regime was quickly intruded by the Canadian-U.S.joined armyand other international forces. This was all possible because of opposingAfghanmilitantsthat helped them.
As part of the U.S. led counter-terrorismnaval campaign, warships were sent from Canadato southwest Asia. There weren’t any ocean borders in Afghanistan, so the navaleffortindirectly impacted the military situation there. To secure the region, theNavy patrolledon the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Also, they searched ships and other civilianvessels for secret shipments of drugs that would be used for the funding ofterrorist groupsand wanted terrorists. It was said to be the busiest naval deployment ofOperation Apollo,over the time period of 2001-2003.
From bases in Halifax and Esquimalt, fifteenCanadianwarships were sent to the region. Six other Canadian ships along this area aswell, with1,500 personnel, had operated around the same time in January 2002. This was Canada’slargest naval operation since after World War II. In Kabul and Kandahar, Canada sustainedan army of around 2,000 infantry soldiers, multi-purposeand unnamed aircrafts from the Royal Canadian Air Force and useful military equipmentreceived overtime; artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles. Restoringconditions, defendingand securing the region was Canada’s main contribution. Infantry soldiers were ableto set up support units too.
For instance, there had been a field hospital inKandahar. Also,the Afghan National army received mentors and training from small groups and volunteerssent from all over Canada and the police forces. Often, Taliban guerrillafighters werebattled by Canadian forces in open combat and Canadians had several smallvictories. Thisdid not effect much, however, because the insurgent forces would retreat andreturn afterrecruiting more people and come back in greater numbers.
Security had continuallybegunto worsen as casualties grew by 2006 and it dragged on into 2011. Canadianslost their strongeight-year hold on the region and the war was eventually lost. Overall, Canada hadspentan estimation of $18-billion in combat and restoring Afghanistan.