KABUL, AFGHANISTAN--(Marketwire - July 1, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, and Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, were in Afghanistan today to celebrate Canada Day with Canadian Forces members deployed in support of Op ATTENTION, Canada's contribution to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.
"It is with the utmost pride that I have the opportunity to celebrate Canada Day with the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces," said Minister MacKay. "Our personnel serving in Afghanistan continue to make great strides in their mission. Their strength, perseverance and leadership are a source of pride and inspiration for Canadians everywhere, and remind of the greatness that our country can achieve."
"I am honoured to celebrate Canada Day among some of Canada's best and bravest here in Afghanistan," said Minister Fantino. "The effort, integrity and unparalleled dedication of all Canadian Forces members to the fulfillment of their mission whether at home or abroad is truly remarkable."
"Every time I return to Afghanistan I see the improvement that the combined work of Afghans and Canadians are making to the country," said Major-General Vance. "Efforts to improve conditions are apparent everywhere - and our Canadian Forces members continue to do incredible work, contributing to Afghanistan's future. I am proud to be with them here on Canada Day."
During their visit, Ministers MacKay and Fantino met with Canadian Forces leadership and personnel, attended a medal ceremony for Canadian troops, met with Afghanistan's Minister of the Interior Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and participated in a town hall meeting. Minister MacKay also met with General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and with General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's Minister of Defence. The visit today concluded with a Canada Day BBQ and entertainment. Canadian Forces members were entertained by Glass Tiger, comedian Kelly Taylor, singer-songwriter Liz Coyles, and had an opportunity to meet former hockey players Tiger Williams and Mark Napier as part of a Team Canada visit to Afghanistan.
Canada's UN-mandated, NATO-led combat mission in Kandahar Province ended in July 2011 and Canadian Forces members have since been engaged in a non-combat, Kabul-centred training role that will continue until 2014.
Operation Attention, Canada's participation in the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A), delivers training and professional development services to the national security forces of Afghanistan, especially the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). Its primary objective is to prepare the Afghan national security forces for a seamless transition of authority by the end of 2014.