CBC News Online | June 19, 2006
In the winter of 2006, the Canadian Armed Forces began a major buildup of forces in southern Afghanistan. On Feb. 28, Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, who arrived in mid-February, took command of the multinational brigade based in Kandahar. Fraser also commands the 2,200 Canadians who are part of the brigade. Soldiers from Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and other countries are part of the brigade.
Brigadier General David Fraser (CBC Photo/Stephen Puddicombe)
Fraser reports to American Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Freakley, the coalition operational commander in the region. U. S. Lt.-Gen. Karl Eikenberry is in overall command of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Canadian Forces began building up its forces in Afghanistan in the summer of 2005, expanding the mission from the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul (called "Operation Athena"), to a more aggressive mission in Kandahar ("Operation Archer") working closely with the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Department of National Defence called it "reaffirming its strong defence commitment to Afghanistan."
The move is part of a NATO plan to build up allied forces, including British and Dutch troops in the Kandahar area, to relieve pressure on the American forces that will then concentrate on the border region with Pakistan.
The Canadian commitment to Afghanistan is officially called "Task Force Afghanistan" and includes three main components:
The provincial reconstruction team, called "Operation Archer," is made up of personnel from the Canadian Forces, Foreign Affairs, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- About 80 personnel assigned to Kabul to various civilian and military organizations.
- About 2,000 assigned to a battle group at the Kandahar air base, an old airfield built up by the United States after the invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. For the first part of 2006, this will include the headquarters group commanded by Brig. Gen Fraser.
- About 150 assigned to Camp Nathan Smith, a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) based in the city of Kandahar.
Operation Archer began in early July 2005, when a 220-member "theatre activation team" left for Kandahar. The reconstruction team arrived later in July. The Canadian Forces plans to rotate in new provincial reconstruction personnel in early 2006.
Canada ended the fifth deployment of soldiers in Operation Athena, based in Kabul in late 2005 and turned over the Canadian-built Camp Julien to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
Task Force Afghanistan
The Canadians in the battle group known as Task Force Afghanistan include:
- Multi-National Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron in Kandahar. About 200 personnel primarily from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron based in Edmonton, plus other personnel from other units. Its role is to assist Brigadier-General Fraser in accomplishing his mission and provide him and his Staff with the communications necessary to exercise command and control over theMulti-National Brigade that is responsible for southern Afghanistan.
- 250 members from all over Canada, based in Kandahar, who constitute the National Command Element.
- A support group of 300 from the 1 General Support Battalion (1 Gen Sp Bn) and 1 Service Battalion, based in Kandahar.
- A Battle Group of about 1,000 members in Kandahar, primarily from the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (1 PPCLI) Edmonton, which also includes;
- soldiers from 2nd Battalion PPCLI;
- an engineer squadron from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1CER) in Edmonton;
- an artillery battery from 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery from Shilo, Man. ;
- an armoured reconnaissance troop, from 12 RBC in Valcartier, Que. ;
- a Provincial Reconstruction Team from Western Canada;
- an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) unit from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (THS) in Edmonton;
- 70 personnel at the coalition hospital at Kandhar Air Field , composed of personnel from 1 Field Ambulance from Edmonton, Alta., and from 1 Canadian field Hospital in Petawawa, Ont..
Col. Steve Bowes, commander of Canada's provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar, Afghanistan, looks on Saturday July 30, 2005, as local and military construction crews work to prepare the team's camp. (CP Photo/ Terry Pedwell)
The Canadian Forces also says "specialized elements" are part of Operation Archer, likely including the special forces Joint Task Force 2.
- An infantry company from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.
- An engineer squadron from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment.
- A combat support company from 1 Service Battalion and 1 General Support Battalion.
- Health and medical support from 1 Field Ambulance.
Other Canadian units in Afghanistan include:
As well there are about 250 support personnel stationed outside Afghanistan elswhere in southwest Asia.
- A special advisory team for the Karzai government
- embedded staff officers at NATO's International Security Assistance Force Headquarters, U.S. Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan and the Office of Security and Cooperation - Afghanistan (OSC-A) in Kabul
- Staff officers at Combined Joint Task Force 76 (CJTF-76) in Bagram
- A small group of instructors involved in the training of the Afghan National Army.
Units that have served in Afghanistan
Royal 22e Regiment
The Royal 22e Regiment was founded shortly after the beginning of the First World War in 1914.
At the beginning of the war there were just 3,000 regular soldiers in the Canadian Army. The Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised through local militia regiments and at the time francophone soldiers were scattered throughout those militia regiments.
A Quebec businessman, Arthur Mignault of the Franco-American Chemical Company, offered Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden $50,000 of his own money to raise a regiment "composed of and officered by French Canadians." Mignault's proposal was supported by Opposition leader Sir Wilfred Laurier, and soon accepted by Borden, whose government was concerned about lack of support in Quebec for the war effort.
The raw battalion was soon in the worst battles of the Western Front. Its first major action was in 1916 at Courcelette where the soldiers were ordered out of the trenches to capture a village. Soldiers from the battalion fought at Vimy Ridge and Amiens. It came under gas attack at Passchendaele. (About 1,200 men had been recruited for the regiment. After Passchendaele, 600 had been killed or wounded.)
At Cherisy, all the officers were killed or wounded, including a young Georges Vanier, who would command the regiment in the 1920s and eventually become governor general.
In the Second World War, the Van Doos were part of the Canadian assault on Italy, fighting through the Moro Valley and the streets of Ortona. In one fight, at a gully near a town called Case Berardi, some of the Van Doos were surrounded by Germans. An officer named Capt. Paul Triquet led them on a charge from the gully into the town.
In Korea, the regiment fought along the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and took part in the battle for Hill 355.
In later years, the Royal 22e Regiment took part in peacekeeping operations in Cyrpus and the Republic of the Congo, Bosnia and East Timor.
2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group
The brigade group traces its history back to the early days of the First World War, as the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade that began in 1914. The unit received battle honours that include Ypres, the Somme and Vimy Ridge.
The unit was deactivated in 1918, and then reborn in the Second World War.
In the Second World War, the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade, landed in Sicily and then fought its way up through Italy, and took part in the fierce battle at Ortona. The Second Canadian Infantry Brigade then moved to Europe,
The current brigade also has its roots in the Special Service Force. The First Special Service Force was a joint Canadian and American unit, later made famous by Hollywood as the Devil�s Brigade, which operated from 1942 to 1944.
The Second Canadian Infantry Brigade was deactivated in 1945, then reborn in 1954, later becoming the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, based at Camp Petawawa near Ottawa.
It became the 2Combat Group in the 1960s and in 1977 it was combined with the Canadian Airborne Regiment to form the Special Services Force.
The Special Service Force was dissolved when the Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995 after the Somalia scandal. It was then redesignated as 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, following earlier groups, the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Western Canada and 5e Groupe-brigade m�canis� in Quebec. The Department of National Defence says the units are designed to combine the flexibility of special forces with the general capabilities of a military unit to give it "wide employability."
Royal Canadian Regiment
The Royal Canadian Regiment is one of Canada�s oldest military units, founded in 1883, as a regular unit that would train the Canadian militia. It was in action two years later in the Northwest Rebellion and fought at Batoche and Cut Knife Creek, and later assisted the Royal Northwest Mounted Police in the Yukon during the Gold Rush.
In 1899, the Second Battalion of the RCR served in South Africa in the Boer War. During that time the Third Battalion was formed to guard the Halifax Citadel.
In the First World War, the regiment combined with the Princess Patricia�s Canadian Light Infantry and other Canadian units to form the �Shiny 7th Brigade� that fought at Cambrai and liberated the Belgian city of Mons.
In the Second World War, the RCR landed at Palermo in Sicily and after fighting across the island, was involved in another amphibious landing at Reggio de Calabria. The RCR was also part of the fierce battle at Ortona and then took part in attacks on the German defences in Italy called the Hitler Line and the Gothic Line.
The regiment was transferred to Europe in February 1945 and liberated the Dutch city of Appledorn.
All three battalions of the regiment also fought during the Korean War. In February 1952, the Second Battalion fought the Chinese at the battle Kowang San. It was replaced by the Third Battalion, which took over the Jamestown Line on Hill 187, where it fought one of the last engagements before the armistice in 1953.
The regular Third Battalion was disbanded in 1954. In 1958, a reserve militia unit The London and Oxford Fusiliers was redesignated as the Third Battalion RCR (London and Oxford Fusiliers).
In 1970, with yet another reorganization of the Armed Forces, the third battalion was reborn as a regular unit and the London-based militia unit became the Fourth Battalion.
The First Battalion, originally the First Battalion of the First Canadian Infantry Regiment was disbanded in 1946 and then reborn in 1949. Like the Third Battalion, it is stationed at Camp Petawawa.
Both the First and Third Battalions RCR were deployed during the October Crisis in 1971.
The Third Battalion RCR was stationed in Europe as part of NATO from 1972 to 1975, then was posted to peacekeeping duties in Cyprus in 1976.
In 1990, two companies from 3 RCR and one company from 1 RCR served in the Gulf during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the first Gulf War.
In 1992, soldiers from the Third Battalion helped secure Sarajevo airport during the civil war in Bosnia. It returned to Bosnia for a tour with the stabilization force, SFOR, in 1998 and 1999.
The First battalion has served as peacekeepers in the Sinai, in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The PPCLI or "Patricias"
The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry have earned a distinguished reputation during the two World Wars and the Korean War. The regiment was created on August 10, 1914, and mobilization began the next day. Most of the soldiers who came to the Patricias had served with regular forces of the British Empire, and many of them had seen action in South Africa.
The regiment is named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, the daughter of Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, the third son of Queen Victoria. He was the first member of Britain's Royal Family to become Governor General of Canada, serving between 1911 and 1916.
Patricia served as Colonel-in-chief of the regiment. She designed the badge and colours for the regiment. For Christmas in 1915, she sent a card and a box of maple sugar to every Canadian soldier serving overseas. She used her own sewing machine to make thousands of socks for Canadian troops. During the First World War she fell in love with Captain Alexander Ramsay, her father's aide-de-camp, and the year after the war ended they were married. She had to renounce her royal title to marry the commoner and for the rest of her life she was Lady Patricia Ramsay.
In the First World War the Patricias served at Ypres, Frezenberg, Passchendaele, Mount Sorel, Amiens, the Somme and Vimy � to name a few of the battles they engaged in. In the Second World War, they took part in the landing at Sicily, served in Italy from 1943 to 1945, then fought their way up to northwestern Europe.
The 2nd battalion of the Patricias fought valiantly in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, receiving the Distinguished Unit Citation from the President of the United States for the battalion's stand near Kapyong in April 1951. As a result, the battalion received a four-foot-long streamer, which is attached to the pike of the regimental colours.
The Royal Canadian Dragoons
The Royal Canadian Dragoons is Canada�s �senior cavalry regiment.� It was founded in December 1883 in Calgary and first saw action two years later during the Northwest Rebellion, and in 1896 one unit was sent to the Yukon to keep the peace during the Klondike Gold Rush.
The regiment served during the Boer War in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. During the war, a lieutenant and a sergeant from the Royal Canadian Dragoons received the Victoria Cross.
During the First World War, the regiment was part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, part of the First Canadian Division.
After the First World the Dragoons, like most cavalry regiments changed from horses to armour and became the First Armoured Car Regiment (Royal Canadian Dragoons).
The Dragoons served in Sicily and Italy in 1943 and 1944. After the Normandy invasion, the Dragoons became the Reconnaissance Regiment for the First Canadian Infantry Division as the Canadians moved through northwest Europe and the Dragoons liberated the town of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
After the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Dragoons fought in Korea and then was stationed in Germany. It also served on a peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. After it was withdrawn from Europe in 1987, the regiment was stationed at Camp Petawawa.
One squadron and a reconnaissance troop served in Somalia and the regiment also served on two rotations in Bosnia.
Area: 647,500 km sq. (same size as Manitoba)
Population: 28,513,000 (2004)
Head of State: Hamid Karzai
GDP (2003): $20 billion US (est.)
Exports to Canada (2003): $618,889
Imports from Canada (2003): $9 million
Median Age: 17.5
Life expectancy at birth: 42.46
Ethnic groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
(Source: CIA World Fact Book, Government of Canada)