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Visit to Afghanistan

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November 4, 2010

Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada Back from Afghanistan

OTTAWA—His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, completed his first visit abroad to Afghanistan on Thursday November 4, 2010. This short visit allowed him to extend his support to the Canadian soldiers who are deployed to protect and help the Afghan population. It also provided His Excellency the opportunity to meet with representatives from Canadian and Afghan civil societies, and to grasp the scope of reconstruction efforts carried out within the country.

Summary of activities during the visit:
Upon his arrival, the Governor General, along with General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff, visited the Kandahar military base to meet with and show his solidarity to Canadian troops. This encounter allowed for an exchange with the men and women who are committed every day to providing a safe and secure environment to local communities.

He then joined the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team to gain a first-hand understanding of the work conducted by Canadians military and civilians. His Excellency learned how Canadian priorities are being implemented in Afghanistan, with the help of our allies and partners. During his visit, the Governor General participated in a shura, where he witnessed Canada’s efforts in promoting the rule of law through the training and mentoring of the Afghan National Security Forces. His Excellency also met with officials from Kandahar province and from Kandahar University to discuss their priorities and issues around education.                                             

His Excellency also visited the operating base in the district of Panjway, where he met with deployed Canadian soldiers. On site, he also discussed with representatives from the Afghan National Army, who work closely with the Canadian Forces in this sector. 

The visit concluded with a return to Kandahar to address the troops, civilians and Canadian media in attendance. 

During his visit, His Excellency presented the scroll and pennant of the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation to the 1st Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, from Petawawa, Ontario, for courageous and professional execution of duty in Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation was created on July 3, 2002, to recognize outstanding service by units of the Canadian Forces in extremely hazardous circumstances in an active theatre of operations. Other units who will be presented with this recognition: the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group (Edmonton, Alberta) and the 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group (Courcelette, Quebec). For more information on this recognition, please read the following announcement:

Statement from the Governor General of Canada to Canadian soldiers and Canadians from civil society in Afghanistan on Thursday November 4, 2010:

As commander-in-chief, I have been looking forward to my first visit to Afghanistan. I have been anxious to meet you and to hear your thoughts on how things are going on the ground. 

This is such an important time in the history of this country, as the Afghan people continue the struggle to overcome years of distress and uncertainty.  

This afternoon, I had discussions with representatives from Afghan civil society at two different locations on a wide range of issues, as well as with representatives from the university.  

I have witnessed today the intensity and closeness with which military personnel, Canadian civilians and humanitarian workers collaborate with their Afghan partners to improve the lives of their country’s citizens. 

I am so impressed by the unwavering conviction of the men and women of the Canadian Forces and by your commitment to helping the Afghan people. 

I want you to know that Canadians at home are extremely proud of what you are accomplishing.  They are also aware of the sacrifices you are making. It is hard for them to imagine the strength needed to successfully accomplish your duties.  

Many of you have told me that you are here because you want to make a difference. Today, I can say with certainty that you are making a difference in the lives of these people. 

I know that Canadians, like me, hold you in the highest of regards. I know that your loved ones support you and cherish you. 

At this critical point in your mission, I wish you well as you pave the way for humanitarian workers and partners to continue to build and develop a safe environment for the Afghan people.  

I am very proud to be here today. 

David Johnston


Photos are available in the “Operation ATHENA 2010” photo gallery at and video is available for download at:

Media Information:
Marie-Ève Létourneau
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-302-0912 (cell.)