A group of Canadian troops serving in Kabul as part of the second rotation of Canada's contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan returned home on Saturday, as the mission begins to wind down ahead of its conclusion on March 31, 2014 when the responsibility for security will be transferred over to the Afghans.
"We are completing our mission in Afghanistan that will end next year," said Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney in Ottawa on Sunday.
Approximately 90 members of the Canadian Armed Forces returned home to Quebec City after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan where they trained and advised Afghan security forces in Kabul.
Roughly 900 Canadian Armed Forces members are serving in Afghanistan as military trainers and support personnel during this rotation of Operation Attention, Canada's contribution to the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan.
"I am very proud of the great work our men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces have accomplished in the past months," said National Defence Minister Peter Mackay in a written statement on Saturday.
"They have made incredible contributions improving the lives and security of the people of Afghanistan."
"Our troops deserve a warm welcome home following a nine-month mission in Afghanistan," said Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Commander of the Canadian Army.
"I would like to add a special 'thank you' to the families who supported them while they were away."
Third and final rotation
Just over 100 soldiers, part of the third and final rotation of Canadian troops, were deployed from the Edmonton and Shilo bases in Manitoba last Thursday.
The troops will participate in the final rotation of Operation Attention from June 2013 to March 2014.
Throughout the months of June and July, approximately 900 Canadian military personnel will be deployed in the area of Kabul, gradually replacing Canadian military members who were deployed in the second rotation.
Approximately 90 troops deployed in the second rotation will be returning home every couple of days over the course of the next month, confirmed Army Public Affairs Capt. Dennis Noel in a telephone call to CBC News on Saturday.
In March, MacKay estimated the total operational cost for the 950 soldier contingent, over four years, to reach over $500 million by the time the mission comes to an end in 2014.
Canadian troops in Haiti
Last week, the federal government announced that Canadian troops would participate in a Brazilian–led peacekeeping operation in Haiti.
On Thursday, 34 members of the Canadian Armed Forces from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Valcartier, Que. were deployed in support of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
The troops will operate within a Brazilian battalion in Haiti until December 2013.