GG visits troops in Afghanistan
'Seeing is believing,' Governor General says of troops' efforts
Gov. Gen. David Johnston wrapped up his first trip to Afghanistan Thursday, saying Canadians should be proud of the military's effort there.
"I just wish Canadians could see about one-tenth of what I've seen here, because seeing is believing," Johnston told reporters.
"One is really struck by, first of all, the military effort in very, very difficult conditions."
During the visit, he donned combat fatigues for the first time.
"This is the first time I've had the uniform on, and I must say I'm very proud to wear it," Johnston told reporters. He had previously suggested he would not wear a military uniform as Governor General since he did not have a military background.
"We've got remarkable leaders and remarkably able people here, so it gives me a great pleasure to don these clothes and be part of that group for a day at least," he said.
Johnston's visit, which was his first visit to a foreign country since becoming Governor General last month, lasted for just over 24 hours. He sampled most of the major elements of the mission: helicopter rides, shuras (meetings with Afghans), austere combat outposts and Tim Hortons coffee.
After introducing him to the troops, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk suggested Johnston grab a cup of coffee and listen to their stories.
Meeting with Kandahar governor
The Governor General was then whisked off to Camp Nathan Smith, home to Canada's civilian reconstruction efforts.
There he temporarily shed his combat fatigues to take part in a shura about education with Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa.
He listened closely as Wesa, himself a former professor at the University of British Columbia, called for closer ties between Canadian and Afghan schools.
"We have to connect university to university, college to college," Wesa said.
Johnston then looked on as a fresh batch of Afghan National Police goose-stepped their way through graduation, telling them: "You play such a vital role in ensuring the progress of your country."
He was back in tan fatigues and full "battle rattle" — slang for body armour and helmet — for a trip to a strategic forward operating base in the heart of the volatile Panjwaii district.