Canadian troops mark final combat rotation
The last Canadian battle group in Kandahar officially took command Saturday in a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield.
The 1st Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment is taking over from the Royal Canadian Regiment, which has been on the ground for seven months.
This is the 10th and final rotation of the main battle group for Task Force Kandahar and this will be the last combat force to be deployed in this region of Afghanistan. By July 1, 2011, Canada's mission in the region goes from a security and combat role to one of training Afghan forces for three years.
For the next several months, the pressure will be on for this Canadian combat force to secure Panjwaii and Dand districts west and south of Kandahar, before it hands over command to NATO and to the Afghan National Security Forces.
The Canadian troops will focus on an area known as the Horn of Panjwaii, which is less than 100 kilometres west of Kandahar and is a known trouble spot for Canadian troops. They will be on the hunt for Taliban militants as they move into that region in the coming weeks.
The outgoing commander of Canada's mentoring team, Col. Ian Creighton, declared Friday that the back of the insurgency was broken by the NATO offensive on the outskirts of Kandahar this fall.
Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis will lead the mission until July. He said he's not sure the lull in violence is related to the onset of winter, or whether the Taliban has been defeated.
With files from The Canadian Press