Canadians transfer Kandahar battle command to Americans

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Canadians transfer Kandahar battle command to Americans

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Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner speaks during a ceremony marking the Canadian handover of forward fire base Masum Ghar to U.S. forces in Panjwaii district in Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP / Rafiq Maqbool)


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From right, Brig.-Gen Dean Milner, Commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, Lt.Col. Michel Henri St- Louis and U.S Col. Steve Miller are seen during the transfer of command authority papers at the forward fire base Masum Ghar in Panjwaii district in Kandahar province Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Jul. 5 2011 8:19 AM ET
Canada's front-line fighting role in Afghanistan officially ended Tuesday when soldiers handed battlefield combat responsibilities over to the Americans.
Canadians have been working toward completion of the combat mission since Parliament voted in 2008 to end the mission by July 2011.
CTV's South Asia bureau chief Janis Mackey Frayer, reporting from Afghanistan, said the ceremony took place in Masum Ghar in Kandahar province. Soldiers from the Royal 22e Regiment official handed over battlefield responsibilities to American troops.
"It was very low key, rather official and by the end of it Canada was no longer in control of that district of Kandahar," Mackey Frayer told CTV's Canada AM.
On Thursday, Canada's Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner will formally hand over his command of NATO troops in Panjwai and Dand districts to an American counterpart.
Mackey Frayer said Canadian troops won their first major victory at Masum Ghar in 2006, taking the town from the Taliban after a vicious and bloody battle.
"It became the place where most of Canada's combat operations were launched from so it seemed fitting that the ceremony was held there today," she said.
The formal ceremony, in which responsibility was signed over to the Americans, took place in an Afghan National Army compound.
Lt.-Col. Steve Miller, commander of the 3rd Battalion 21st U.S. Infantry Regiment and the new military head of the region, said the area is much quieter than he expected.
"We actually expected this fight to be more kinetic than it had been in the last 30 days," he said. "This area has not seen the spike (in violence) that usually occurs here during the spring following the poppy harvest."
The Canadian Press reported that much of that peace and quiet can be attributed to the Canadian Van Doos, who sought out and seized major caches of insurgent weapons over the past six months.
Virtually all of Canada's troops have already transitioned out of Afghanistan's battle areas and are either awaiting transport home from Kandahar Airfield, or have already been shipped home.
A handful of Canadian troops will stay behind to serve under U.S. command for several weeks to help with the transition.
Another 950 Canadian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan in a training role until 2014, and will be based out of Kabul.
Canada's Mission Closure Unit is now tasked with the job of tearing down, cleaning, packing and shipping all of Canada's gear. Everything from tanks to desks and computers will be cleaned, sterilized and sent home.
The goal is to have that work completed by the end of the year.



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