A change-of-command ceremony was held at Kandahar airfield to mark the formal end of combat operations, although 900+ other troops are being sent to work in a training role in the Afghan capital.
Afghan, Canadian and American national anthems were played to a small group of soldiers from each country, before commanders addressed the crowd and formally handed control of the mission to the United States.
Brigadier General Dean Milner, head of the Canadian combat mission, said in his speech to the assembled troops: "Over the years Canadians, both military and civilian, have made the ultimate sacrifice.
"All of these comrades would be proud to know of your accomplishments. Although there is still work to do, [we] are extremely proud of what has been accomplished."Canadian soldiers first deployed to Afghanistan in early 2002.
From Winnipeg Free Press:
New song welcomes Canadian troops home as they return from AfghanistanPosted: 07/5/2011
TORONTO - After penning the patriotic ode "Highway of Heroes," Bob Reid had the opportunity to travel to war-torn Kandahar and witness the efforts of Canadian soldiers first-hand.
The experience inspired him and only deepened his appreciation for the sacrifice of the Canadian troops. So as most of those men and women now prepare to return home with the Canadian war effort winding to a close, Reid wanted to do his part to ensure they were greeted with a hearty reception.
"(At) the end of the Second World War, there were ticker tape parades in the streets for returning soldiers," Reid said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
"It's a different world now and obviously this was a different kind of conflict. But still, I just thought it would be a shame if the mission ended, they came home after all of that sacrifice, and there wasn't any kind of recognition."
That's what prompted Reid to write his new song, "Soldier, Welcome Home," now available on iTunes and as a CD single. A portion of proceeds is being directed to the Wounded Warriors charity...
Much more here.
Soldier, WELCOME HOME!
(For a brief video of the handover, go here at the Pentagon Channel)