Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, spent Christmas with Canadian troops at Kandahar Airfield and on Saturday paid tribute to Lt. Andrew Nuttall, who was killed in Afghanistan this week.
"I just want to express my sincere condolences to the Nuttall family. Lt. Andrew Nuttall was an outstanding leader, an outstanding soldier. Speaking to many of his soldiers, they just commented on how much they admired and respected him as a leader," Natynczyk said.
"This is a dangerous environment. We know that," the general said. "And we learn each and every day that we're up against a cunning enemy who continues to find ways and means to defeat our ability to secure Afghanistan for Afghans."
Nuttall's body is on its way back to Canada. A repatriation ceremony will be held at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario on Monday.
Relatives from Victoria are heading to the base.
Nuttall, 30, of the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was killed Wednesday by an improvised explosive device while on patrol about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.
An Afghan soldier was also killed and an interpreter was seriously injured in the explosion.