I was in Afghanistan when the first Canadian regular troops began arriving in numbers in February 2002, but Canadian special forces had been operating in Afghanistan since the previous fall.
I spent a year in Afghanistan, based first in Kandahar in the south and, later, in Kabul in the north, always with my own local fixer and driver. I was with a recce squad when Edmonton-based 3PPCLI launched Canada’s first combat assault since the Korean War, on a mountain in the Sha-i-Kot Valley near the Pakistan border. It was Canada’s first-ever helicopter-borne assault.
My buddy, Alberta-based filmmaker Garth Pritchard, and I accompanied Canadian regulars and American SoF on operations in Tora Bora as they looked for Osama bin Laden. There were many other operations and adventures to follow.
Over the course of three extended assignments in Afghanistan, I came to know our soldiers well and admire them deeply. Some 158 died there, the highest casualty rate in the coalition.
God bless them all.